Farewells and Paris Reflections from 2018

Bonjour from Paris for the final time this year. When most of you see this post, we’ll be on our way home. Natalie left on Tuesday at noon and had another frustrating journey with delayed flights, technical problems, missing but found luggage, etc. We miss her.

Your comments, encouragement and support have meant so much to us this year which has been our busiest ever. And one of the hottest!

I thought you might enjoy hearing some of Natalie’s comments and observations. She had a great attitude from the moment she arrived, and it was very special to have her here after twelve years of hoping she would come.

—“I wanted to take a picture of everything!”

—“The church bells ring constantly. I counted up to 72 times.”

—“Mom, I’m surprised that you can speak French so well and you can navigate the city like a pro.”

—“It’s so hard not to speak Spanish as my default foreign language!”

—“Why can’t I drink from a bottle?”

—“The cafe tables are so small and so close together.”

—“Things are much more functional here than I expected especially  the bathrooms. I never ran out of hot water.”

—Natalie observed that the menu at most French cafes and restaurants is basically the same…duck, lamb, beef tartare, escargot, onion soup, salmon, cheese, croque monsieur, croque madam, etc. Of course, she was most impressed with the desserts.

—She was surprised at how quiet people are in public places, especially the children.

—She found the fashion to be a little bit of everything and hard to tell who was Parisian and who was a tourist.

—She was confused by “oxymorons” like pulling your bread apart with your fingers and then putting it directly on the table which seems gauche —- but then being encouraged to eat your French fries with a fork.

—She was pleasantly surprised at the delightful demeanor from almost all service people in stores and restaurants.

—She observed that there is not much obesity.

—She was “repulsed” by all the cigarette smoke.

—She loved the architecture; it was so much more than she ever expected!

—“There are sirens all the time.”

—“I loved my “little hole.” (meaning her bedroom)

We hope she will return to the US and be a cheerful ambassador for Paris!! She has certainly made our hearts sing.

Now to Bernie’s and my reflections on this trip.

We will not miss the heat, the dust from the unpaved road beside our apartment, or the pollution from stale air and car exhaust. We will not miss the absence of refreshing rain to wash the city clean. And most especially, not the awful pissoirs which have created a furor in the city from residents. I read an article about their purpose which was to keep “young men” from urinating on the streets. Can’t quite compute what the difference is…ha! Lastly, we won’t miss the awful mess at the Eiffel Tower and hope for better years when they have finished with the changes and perfected a new normal!

We will miss, of course, the church bells, Miss Manon (our boulongerie & patisserie), our friends here and  delightful neighbors, the river walks, and always the sunsets. Bernie will miss the inexpensive wines, the tartare de bœuf, and his group of drinkin’ buddies who have become so dear to him. Leaving them each year becomes harder and harder. I will miss the rich, dark espressos and the Café Gourmand. And definitely, we will miss the blissful insulation from American politics!

This year, I witnessed two people get hit by cars, one an older lady with a cane who was immediately transported by ambulance. The other was a young delivery boy on a bicycle who got up seemingly uninjured and rode away. Both were scary scenes!

The fashion has been surprising…lots of earth tones and few scarves… too hot. We have seen more subway police checking tickets in the subway and still many armed guards but perhaps not as many as last year. There were no terrorist attacks  during our stay. Last year there were two. The restrooms just get better and better in public places which thrills me, and daily, I’m offered a seat on the subway from a nice young Parisian. Those who still insist that Parisians are horribly rude just don’t understand and fall prey to an old stereotype.

One funny thing I learned from our friend Ann Jeanne is NEVER to put confiture (jam) on a croissant! I’m finding myself much more at ease in conversing in French and absorbing French culture. And Bernie is really proud of his easy command of the language this year. It seems to have all jelled, and that brings him great joy. The steps and all the walking were more challenging this year. It surely must have been the heat, not the years that are creeping up on both of us!

To Pierre and Laurie, we adored our time with you in Norway. To all of our company, thanks for spending time with us in this city we love. We trust you have great memories to cherish as we do.

If you have our book, Bernie’s Paris, I hope you will reread the last chapter about how Paris has changed me. Go take it off the shelf right now and read it as the grand finale to my blogging. It is my heart and conveys my feelings with tender clarity.

We’ve had so many memories at 42 rue St. Paul, and to think that we may not return is sad for us. Change is a part of life, and we’ll have to wait and see what next year brings.

Au revoir and see you in the fall of 2019.

Linda & Bernie

P.S. Just couldn’t resist one more street scene of the day which we captured downstairs at dinner last night.