Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bonjour, y'all.

So much anxiety, so much planning and, somewhat to my amazement, it is all so good so far.
Planes were on time. We flew Business First (hurray for points!) and it all seemed very swanky. For someone like me who does tons of cramped domestic economy, I almost felt like a faker with a very nice dinner and lie-flat seats.

Got to Paris and flew thru customs; seriously, it took about 5 seconds. A glance at the passport, a rubber stamp, no questions, no stink eye, like we get when we simply go to Canada, fercrysake.

Find the train with no problem, go to the Orange shop at the Metro station and get a sim cars for an old, unlocked iPhone and it works! Show up at the flat, our lovely young rental agent from Wyoming gives us tips and soon we are plying the rues de Paris. The sky clears, it's a short walk to the Seine, we wander over to Notre Dame just in time for an important mass (the Cardinal!) with a huge choir and then wander back to Rue Montmartre and our wee flat, passing through the department store BHV whose basement has an amazing hardware store that includes supplies to repair your own shoes. 

It is early, but we have not eaten since the plane, so we dine at 6ish in a little Thai place and I am restored by a bowl of Tom Ka while Mark gives thumbs up to his curry.

Today's take away. Paris is a lot less foreign than it used to be. People look not much different than New Yorkers, there is plenty of falafel and sushi and there are Sephoras and Vans and H&Ms and Diesel and Starbucks. This is what I knew was happening, that there was a global homogenization going on and that soon no place would feel foreign. The only thing striking about the city is the architecture. In all the stores it is American pop hits and kids in Abercrombie and graffiti everywhere. 

And nearly everyone we've encountered speaks a little English and is glad to give it a try. This is nothing like it was in 1979. I'm glad I was here when people rolled their eyes at your lousy few words of French and nothing was written in English and, aside from a very few KFCs and Mickey Ds, everything was different. 

It takes some digging to see the differences nowadays. They repair their shoes. Themselves! 

From Pont Neuf looking west...


Looking the other way...


Any time's a good time to protest...


Our Lady...


Pont d'Arcole detail (Pont Louis Phillippe in the distance)...


Bonjour, pardner...


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