On Wednesday, Mata Hari and Truman Capote went to the French Open and Gloria Steinem and I took the day to lazily wander around the city, buy some presents for our families and have a few nice meals.
After breakfast we went to Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in the French Quarter, a charming and fascinating shop opened in 1951 by an American named George Whitman. I love this quote below which so accurately describes the experience of wandering through the rabbit-warren-like rooms of the store which contains many little nooks and crannies and reading, as well as writing, areas. There were cats sleeping in corners, beds and couches for relaxing and tiny garret-like windows leaking in bits of sunlight. What a haven for a book lover.
“I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations.” —George Whitman
Please note how very closely I am wearing my bag above. After the wallet stealing incident, I had that thing strapped around my neck at every moment (even when eating) and was holding on to it for dear life every minute of every day. Which is kind of funny, considering that I didn’t have even a dime in the thing since it was all stolen.
Next we took a quick walk across the bridge to Notre Dame Cathedral. The lines were very short and we got inside within about 10 minutes to view the beautiful rose windows and side chapels dedicated to various saints. I’m not a religious person, but Notre Dame is filled with spiritual grace and very moving. We both lit candles; I prayed that my children would have lives filled with wonder and joy, much like the trip I was currently experiencing.
On my previous trip to Paris, I had stayed near Le Jardin Luxembourg and wanted to share it with Gloria since it was so beautiful, so we went for what I had anticipated would be a 15-20 minute walk to the gardens.
Well, as with the entire trip, the best laid plans…….on this particular day, this area of the city was completely blocked off for a celebration to honor French resistance fighters. I could see the gardens right across the street but we couldn’t cross it since all roads were blocked off. We walked and walked, and kept doubling back around until we finally found a spot where the gendarmes (yes, those handsome gendarmes again) finally let us cross the street to get over to the Garden.
The complicated trek there was well worth it as it’s a lovely and peaceful spot, full of young children playing with boats in the water and Parisians sunning themselves in the garden. No one walks on the grassy areas, it’s just not done. But there are many seating areas and a gravel walkway for strolling around to see the beautiful gardens and enjoy the views.
We then wound our way back to l’iles de la cite for dinner at an outdoor restaurant where we had a bit of confusion with our dinner order French/English translation, so it took a long time to get our entree. And when it arrived it seems we’d ordered a smoked salmon appetizer as well as a salmon dinner which the waitress seemed to think was extremely odd. Well, that just meant more time for wine and conversation as we both consumed the delicious dinner.
After a couple of hours, Mata and Truman called to say that they were back from Le French Open and wanted to meet up for drinks and dessert. By that time, I’d had enough to drink (!) so we went for crepes and then headed straight to bed since we were all getting up early in the morning to leave on our car trip to the coast.
Next up: Giverny, Bayeux and the beaches of Normandy.