Thanks to having business class seating from Chicago to Charles de Gaulle, I arrived in Paris at 10:30am well-rested and alert. Apparently, I’m an interesting looking person because not only was I pulled out by the US TSA for additional inspection in Chicago, but French customs wanted to give me an extra-once over, too. And I happy to say, I was able to not only understand, but also answer all their questions, in French. I haven’t spoken French in a while, so I was nervous, but they had no problem understanding me.
With my language skill confidence boosted, I collected my suitcase, and using the incredibly detailed directions Bug sent me, found the RER. I helped an American couple from the Virgin Islands buy their tickets and the three of us rode to Chatelet together. After parting from my new acquaintances, I transferred to the Metro. Two stops later and I was in the Marais – my new neighborhood for the next month.
The property manager, Ruth, met me outside the apartment building. She walked me through the confusing set of keys and codes, explained the apartment to me, and then walked me around the neighborhood, showing me where everything is. She’s a young British woman and told me about the Fete de la Musique happening that night. It sounded like fun and I felt relieved that I had something to do on my first night other than wonder around aimlessly.
After doing some grocery shopping, I climbed the five flights of stairs back to my adorable apartment, took a shower, and emailed my friend Veronica, letting her know I’d arrived. We met a few years back while on a photo shoot both our boys were doing for Lucas Films. She moved to Paris shortly after, but when I was here last time, we met up for lunch and, since we’re both writers, have kept up a friendly correspondence.
Veronica immediately called to invite to her home that night for champagne and after, the Fete de la Musique. Since I had a few hours, I decided to nap. Meanwhile, Veronica sent me metro directions to her home in Montmartre.
As I left my apartment, I realized I never downloaded a map of Paris. I have a metro/transportation map on my phone, but had no idea how to get to the metro stops. So, I took my best guess where the Arts and Metiers metro station was and set off. Luckily, I was right.
One transfer and a short walk later, I was in the heart of Montmartre. Veronica welcomed me into her home and introduced me to her friends. We had some champagne and then set off for La Fete.
I’ve never seen anything like it. DJs and bands were set up all over the streets blasting music. Even some stores had “parties” in front of them.
There were vendors cooking over open flames everywhere. Glitter and disco lights. It was as if the streets of Paris had turned into a giant rave. We spent time dancing at a few different sites, wandered among the crowd, sampled the food, convinced some guy to let Veronica model-pose on his motorcycle, and danced some more. Since I live in San Francisco, I’m used to walking hills and distance in high heels and platforms, but the cobblestones in Paris are a beast. My feet still ache.
I left the ladies a little after midnight – early by all standards- but jet lag caught up to me. Plus, I wanted to get home and check in on Bug and the boys. They had spent the day flying to Michigan and I wanted to make sure they arrived in one piece. After much debating, Veronica and Arnita decided on the best Metro route for me to take home – specifically something that wouldn’t take me out into the sketchy parts of the city, even though it was easiest.
Their directions were great. However, the metro stop I got off on was new to me and I had no idea how to get home. Arnita said to walk straight away from the river, but I ended up in the 4th arr. and in the middest of what looked like a riot. Oh and my phone ran out of juice, so there I was in the middle of a Paris music riot, with no map or phone. I found a police officer, who didn’t speak English, and was able to get directions back to Rue St. Martin. From there, it was a quick walk to my apartment. I got in after one am – partly because I had to climb the five flights of stairs in the DARK – there’s no light from what I could tell. It took me forever. Then I couldn’t figure out the crazy set of keys or see the key hole. Once I did, I still couldn’t open the door to the outside platform because I kept pushing, but needed to pull. At one point, I thought I would just sleep in the hallway – lol.
But I did get in and after calling Bug, collapsed into bed for the night. To my surprise, I woke up at 7:30 – much like at home. So I’m hoping I’m not going to have my typical overwhelming three-day jet lag.
Today, my plan is to explore my neighborhood and maybe head over to the Opera for some book research.
Here’s video of what the music was like. I especially liked this place because of the violin player who was rocking out with the dance music.