Dining in Paris

Posted on 21 June 2005

Dining in Paris
Originally uploaded by Barbara Y.

I spent three nights, two full days, in Paris – in my eyes, the most magnificent city in the world – and returned Sunday evening. Marlene and I had intended to sit in cafes, write in our journals, follow in the steps of de Beauvoir, Colette, Nin, Sartre, Miller, Hemingway, Joyce, but we didn’t. We walked until we were exhausted, till we could take in no more of the architecture with its fleur-de-lis decorative twists, wrought iron balconies, numerous memorials, churches, museums, and expansive public gardens.

I only wrote as the fast train, the TGV, left Paris to take me back to my small village in the south. My legs ached. I munched on a baguette from a stand at Gare Montparnasse. We had left our hotel early morning, walking down rue Vivienne, past the Palais Royale, crossed the courtyard of the Louve with its glass pyramids and jokingly said that we would say we had passed through the Louve quickly as who would come to Paris and not enter its hallowed halls. We strolled through the Tuileries – a broad avenue scattered with classical sculptures – and crossed the Seine on one of the numerous bridges to the Left Bank. Looking down, M pointed out a lone man, saxophone in mouth, playing for no one in particular.

I stopped at the D’Orsay and Marlene continued on to the Rodin museum. I had only an hour and a half to peer at paintings by Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh – famous images of poppy fields, sunlit cathedrals, naked women, self-portraits, blood and battles – but loved seeing the originals, especially the nudes – no skinny model bodies – all with voluptuous abundant flesh. Head full, I left walking briskly, to meet M at eleven in Rodin’s garden that is lined with his sculptures. (We had strolled through it a day earlier, admiring the artist’s way of sculpting sturdy bodies with over-sized hands and feets. M felt compelled to place her small hand in the larger one of many of the statues.)

The night before, we met one of Marlene’s colleagues from the institute in Zurich, at Cafe de Flore where Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre met most mornings and evenings to write, and then her friend, a vibrant Parisian led us to a “very French, inexpensive” restaurant near the Sorbonne where she used to eat when a student there. We ate and drank hearty French fare (steak, pintade, and frites – the best I’ve had anywhere in France) as the sweat poured down our brows.

Oh I could go on and on… I haven’t even mentioned the Musee National du Moyen Age that houses the famous tapistries of “The Lady and the Unicorn”, Shakespeare and Company where we both threw coins in the inner wishing well and… I can’t remember all the sights but how I love listing the names of art, sites, and people (past and present) who haunt and have haunted this city… I feel like a hick from the country, childlike, in awe, but M too must have felt this way (though I must not project with a Jungian) as numerous times she would look me in the eye and say “Yvonne, we’re in Paris.”

I love Paris. (I know writers are supposed to exclude the obvious but I don’t give a damn. I love Paris. I love Paris. I love Paris. I love my daughter who will live in this city, who I will visit in this city.

And so I have been back in Castelnau for a day and yet did not have time to update my blog as yesterday afternoon, Ramona and Don, who married ten days ago in Vancouver, arrived for an overnight visit. We (the three of us) drove into the country to a nearby winery, admired its restored Pigeonniere (sp?), tasted a few wines, bought a few bottles, and then returned to thow together a salad, and wrap bread, cheeses, glasses and cutlery for a picnic.

Oh la la – Susan and David who had invited us to picnic were shaking their fists at us: we had kept all waiting. – but they calmed when they saw our basket of food and bubbly. We drove, in three vehicles to the Causse (an elevated stretch of land.) There were eleven of us including baby Sil who, at one year, crawled here and there over the picnic spread making any attempt at civilized dining impossible – but still the food – a collective effort of onion torte, homuus, green salad, cheese, fruit salad, and chocolate cake – was delicious. After eating and drinking, we took a walk through tall grass towards a red setting sun, where we found ourselves a feast for mosquitoes, and so returned, packed the remains, and as a closing ceremony, swung Sil – much to his glee – in the emptied table cloth.

Today, after visiting Castelnau’s morning market and eating pizza for lunch, Ramona and Don left to continue their honeymoon travels. Before leaving, Don, a food critic and travel journalist, interviewed Christian – the town’s pate man whose penchant for jokes, command of English, and excellent pate made him a worthy subject. (Don needs a show within days of arriving home.)

So there you have it. Life is full of culinary delights. Gill leaves soon for a music festival in Toulouse where she will spend the night with friends so I think I will lay down my head and recuperate.

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