Paris: Finding a Secret

One of the things I love about prolonged stays in new locations is discovering off-the-path things. Today, exactly one week before I have to leave, I found what may be the best view of Paris I’ve ever seen. All in a place I’ve been to many, many times: Printemps.

Originally, we wanted to eat at under the dome, but the wait was over forty minutes. Luckily, the hostess told us about the Terrace Cafe. Because it’s located in the “Home” building of the Printemps complex, we’d never heard of it, but we trekked over to the other building and up to the ninth floor. Upon stepping off the escalator, Bug and I were disappointed. The Dome restaurant has sit down service and this was…a cafeteria?

Since we were all starving, we decided to give it a shot and took the boys out onto the terrace to find a seat.


The first thing I saw was this:

While it looks tiny in this picture, in person, it feels so close you can touch it.

Next was this:

The Opéra and Printemps famous dome.

There were also views of the Champs Élysées, Sacré Couer, the Panthéon, Musée d’Orsay, and a million other things. It was like being in the heart of Paris, with everything within reach. And the food was very good. Not as good as the Dome, but still tasty.

And for the outfit part of the day:

I love this city.

The Outfit:

Dress: GAP navy print dress with blouson sleeves (one of my favorite sleeve types).

Tights: Wolford Velvet De Luxe 66 in Festival.

Shoes: Repetto Navy t-straps.

Bracelet: Trina Turk for Banana Republic.

Earrings: Waterfall Gem from Jennifer Tuton.

The Schedule:

7:30am – Wake up. The Fox has a follow-up doctors appointment to make sure his arm is healing properly.

8:15am – Bug and The Fox leave, the other two boys and I think about breakfast.

8:20am – I send the boys to the patisserie for torsade and pain au chocolate. None of which I can eat 😦

9am – Shower and get dressed.

9:30am – Work a little while the boys play.

10:45 – Bug and the Fox return with good news! His arm is healing perfectly and he can fly home next week!

12:00pm – Leave for lunch

12:30 -3:00 – Lunch and shopping. We had to buy a LARGE suitcase because we’ve completely replaced my wardrobe while here. There’s a chance we may have to buy another.

3:15 – BUSTED by the Paris Metro Police for fare jumping. Boone didn’t use his ticket to get into the Metro and upon exiting, there was a checkpoint. Even though we had unused, paid tickets, we were still fined 30 euro on the spot. HARSH.

3:45 – Home. Bug does a little work and then we hang out while the boys play.

5:00pm – Bug goes to the grocery store while I play with the boys and swear at my phone because my email isn’t working.

6:30pm – Dinner for the boys. Wine for mom and dad 😀

7:00pm – Bug and the boys play poker while I work a little more.

8:00pm – Boys to bed, dinner for the adults.
This may be my new favorite picture:

Paris Day 3: Soloist

I didn’t go to bed until 5am last night. Not because I was out doing anything exciting, but because I’m still jet lagged. However, I woke up at 10:30am and made myself get going. Today was the first day since arriving that I haven’t had any plans with anyone. Just me, myself, and I alone in Paris.

By the time I left, it was a little after noon. I walked two blocks to the Metro for the short ride over to the Printemps stop. The area around Paris’s grandest department store reminds me a little of the area around San Francisco Center – wide street, lots of people, and frankly, many of the same shops. But oh do I love Printemps. It has EVERYTHING. Including amazing food. I hurried down one floor of the “Mode” building and secured a salad and a Coke (typically a no-no for me, but I needed caffeine). After, I walked across the floor to the lingerie section. Here’s a not so-secret-secret (as in, I often talk about my love of frilly, lacy things): I love pretty undies. The last time I was in Paris, I’d just had breast reduction surgery and wasn’t able to shop. So I made up for that today 😀 The poor salesgirl must have thought I was insane, but she kept bringing me more, like a good little drug dealer.

I sat in this little park and read a book for a bit. In Paris, no one reads on an ereader. It’s paperback or nothing.

With my beautifully wrapped package in hand, I decided to walk back to my apartment so I could see more of Paris. Since I have an iPhone, it’s nearly impossible to get lost. Just drop my home pin and go. I decide to go off path though, toward the Tuilleries and Louvre. I kept disobeying my GPS and ended up at the Tuilleries. No matter how many times I see it, I always feel sad. The whole place is very touristy, which is fine, but sometimes I wonder about all the horror and misery that happened there. The imprisonment of the Royal family. The suppression of the Paris Commune and subsequent gutting fire of the palace.

Across the street, I came upon a small orchestra. Unfortunately, I’m short, which means I don’t get the best pictures or videos, but you can still hear it.

After I got home, I collapsed on the couch until my friend, Julia, rang and asked me to dinner. Since my plan consisted of eating dried apricots and nuts, I agreed to meet up in the 4th arr at a cafe not far from my place. When I arrived, a strange, handsome guy stood and kissed me on both cheeks and told me Julia would be along shortly. Turns out he’s her brother…which, one, I didn’t know she had; and two, I had actually met years before. He seemed to know all about me. It was a bit disarming to speak to a stranger who knew more about me than I did him. Thankfully, Julia came along quickly because I was beginning to think she set me up on a date with her brother (despite the fact I’m married). After dinner, we walked down toward the Seine, but I had to run – my boys wanted to Skype with me. So, I said good-bye and made my way home.

Things I learned today: There are lights in the never-ending staircase that stretches up to my floor. The past two days, I’ve stumbled up the uneven, rough wood runners in near darkness. There are also garbage cans on the first floor where I’m supposed to dispose of my rubbish. And lastly, Parisian men LOVE colored pants. It’s like 1982 over here – green, pink, orange. All worn with fitted sweaters or graphic tees. Even guys in their 30’s and 40’s are wearing them. I’m getting pictures tomorrow.

Paris Day 2 – Recovery

I woke up early and thought I’d have a full day ahead of me, but after typing up my blog post, I fell back to sleep and woke again at nearly one pm. I showered, determined to get ready quickly so I could do ALL THE THINGS, but instead, I ended up talking to Bug for about an hour on the phone. By the time I left my apartment, it was a little after 3. Not the early start I wanted, but everything in Paris happens later – it stays light until at least 10pm – so really it wasn’t a wasted day.

My first priority: Food. I’ve barely eaten in the past week. I guess I’m one of the lucky few, who, when stressed, don’t comfort eat. Instead, I simply stop eating and live mostly on water and pieces of lettuce. I know it’s not exactly healthy, but that’s what I do.

Anyway, I found a cafe, took a seat outside, and ordered water and salad (I know, I know). After a few minutes, this young guy – around twenty-three, maybe – sat at the table next to me, so that we were more or less facing each other. He asked if it was okay if he smoked. I said, “yes.”

When I glanced at him, I noticed he had on a City Lights San Francisco t-shirt, so I asked if he’d been to San Francisco. He told me he’d been four years ago, that his aunt lives there. She’s some sort of scientist at UCSF. We chatted back and forth for a few minutes before his girlfriend showed up. She smiled and asked if he were boring me. “No,” I said. “He’s suffering through my bad French.” We laughed and spent the rest our time together using a mash-up of French and English.

The three of us formed a weird little group. Our small, round cafe tables touched each other, so I suppose it looked as if we knew each other. The guy smashed out his cigarette and asked if my heart had ever been so badly broken, I thought I would die.

I stared at my hands and wondered if I was carrying a wounded look. Did I look pathetically sad sitting alone? His girlfriend, wrapped her hand over his and told him to stop, that he needed to focus on the happy moments. Then he started crying. Turns out his father had died in April and this young guy felt as if he had lost the only thing holding him to the Earth.

When he stopped crying, he turned to me and said that he wanted to marry his girlfriend, but she wouldn’t agree to it. She sighed and shook her head. “His heart needs to heal. Marrying me isn’t what he needs. He needs allow his father to be gone.”

The whole time, I’m sitting there thinking I’ve fallen into some weird French existentialism film.The cigarettes, the deep conversation about love and healing and living in the present.

And as I watched them, it became clear how strongly she loves him. I asked how long they’ve been dating. Three years. But they’ve known each other since they were twelve. They are both at Sorbonne studying law – like the guy’s father.

After leaving them, I felt emotionally drained and just wandered around the Marais for a few hours. I’d wanted to purchase a few things today, but all I managed to do was buy soap.

Shortly after getting back to my apartment, I received a dinner invitation from some people I’d met the night before and I accepted. But since dinner wasn’t until 9:30pm, I had time to kill, so I decided to try out the washing machine in the bathroom. Now, I consider myself to be of average intellect and I could not figure out how to open the damn thing. It took me twenty minutes of pushing buttons, pulling on the door, and cursing before I figured it out. Kind of like the ridiculous key situation for the apartment. So many keys and weird door tricks. But that’s a different story…

Anyway, dinner was fabulous – a small, Italian place in the Montmartre. It feels nice to be so welcomed by strangers.

I made my way home a bit after midnight. I have to say, riding the Metro that late at night, by myself, makes me feel like a bad ass. Also, if I climb all 95 stairs at the Lamarck-Caulaincourt Metro stop everyday, I will never need to see my trainer, Tammy, again. They are brutal and an incredibly good workout.

Tomorrow, I’m going over Printemps to do some one-stop shopping, and I hope to get a little writing in. So far, I’ve not opened my manuscript, but I’m beginning to feel like I can. And that’s a huge step. After months of not being able to, the desire to write is slowly coming back.