Paris: A Summer Sojourn

Absurdly excited about my new Navigo pass, Paris

Absurdly excited about my new Navigo pass, Paris

Paris in July offers a relaxed, slower-paced vibe (though we kept up a pretty fast pace this week), with endless choices of things to do outside or inside. Residential quartiers are lovely and peaceful, much quieter than during the school year since Parisians have begun their annual exodus to their country homes or the seaside. But it’s still before the real ‘emptying-out’ that occurs in August, so many or most local shops and cafes are still open for business.

L’Oisive Thé, a charming lunch spot (and yarn shop) in the Butte aux Cailles quartier, Paris

L’Oisive Thé, a charming lunch spot (and yarn shop) in the Butte aux Cailles quartier, Paris

Time always flies by way too fast. Still, Clive and I did almost everything on our list, except for two museums and one closed church. (The Musée d’Orsay Bonnard exhibit closed the weekend we arrived and it just got away from us; we didn’t mind skipping Napoleon at the Carnavalet; and the church where our neighbours’ parents were married was closed the afternoon we tried to visit, despite its website saying it was open. The church dates from the 11th century so we figure we can defer it to a future trip.)

Among the highlights was the mystery surprise: a personal tour of the U.S. Embassy by a wonderful friend who works there. No photos as passports, phones and cameras are held by security, but we thoroughly enjoyed learning about the building’s history, seeing its different areas and meeting a number of impressive individuals working on behalf of the USA in Paris.

Summer day on the Seine, Paris

Summer day on the Seine, Paris

Other highlights included a visit to Père Lachaise cemetery, where I left a bouquet of flowers in remembrance of Lisa Taylor Huff, the writer I admired so much and who died in Paris on 6 July 2015. Lisa’s memorial service was held at Père Lachaise a few days later. Since a permanent site has not yet been established, I left the flowers at the grave of Colette, another Parisian writer. The card says, ‘In memory of Lisa Taylor Huff, a beautiful writer and Parisienne with a bold soul.’

with flowers for Lisa at Père Lachaise cemetery

with flowers for Lisa at Père Lachaise cemetery

card for Lisa at Père Lachaise cemetery

card for Lisa at Père Lachaise cemetery

After the cemetery, we took a Vedettes du Pont-Neuf boat cruise on the Seine, passing under the Pont des Arts which Lisa campaigned so hard to restore to its former beauty. It was inspiring to hear the tour announcer describe the work now being done to this end by the City of Paris.

The Seine and the Pont des Arts, Paris

The Seine and the Pont des Arts, Paris

As always in Paris, I enjoyed virtually every minute — except when we experienced some higher temperatures than we’d prefer and/or when our feet were so tired from walking that they were screaming for mercy. I think the toughest time was in Montmartre, when we – being extremely overly-optimistic — first climbed up the hill, then walked around and visited the museum (which has many more steps), then walked back down the other side, to the Lamarck-Coulaincourt metro and we still weren’t finished because there are about a million more steps circling down and down and down to finally reach the platform.

Clive heading down the Butte Montmartre toward the metro

Clive heading down the Butte Montmartre toward the metro

We enjoyed catching up with another lovely Paris friend at the café of the Petit Palais, and our neighbours invited us to their apartment one evening for a ‘petit apératif’. We more or less upheld our end of the conversation (we think; we’re never sure as they speak no English). We’ve taken photos and Monsieur shared more of his family history with us, fascinating because it’s very much intertwined with the history of the quartier.

Along with everyone else this week, when the temperatures rose and the sun shone so brightly, we sought out shady spots and café tables to pause and just relax for a while. Ice cream was hard to resist.

Relaxing by the Eiffel Tower

Relaxing by the Eiffel Tower

Often in Paris, I’m happiest just walking down the street and soaking up this city. Always before we leave, I get antsy and try to keep in the present, not letting myself get caught up in the emotion of knowing our time here is coming to its end and I’m not exactly sure when we’ll be back. I just try to be conscious of every moment, so I can store them all away as treasures and then reach into my memory and bring them out again to think about and cherish when we’re far away.

In the meantime, after being removed from his place at Trocadéro during metro construction, Ben Franklin is back watching over his corner of the city. He’s inside a locked gate; he has a new path and his grassy hill needs work; and he looks like he could do with a bit of a clean himself — but he’s back. Welcome home, Ben! It’s so great to see you again.

Ben Franklin at Trocadéro, Paris

Ben Franklin at Trocadéro, Paris

Tomorrow we return to the UK, coinciding with the 2015 Felixstowe Carnival, a weekend of family fun and activities beside the sea.

Au revoir, Paris, until we meet again.

Stairway to the Seine, Pont Marie, Paris

Stairway to the Seine, Pont Marie, Paris

Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.

5 Responses

  1. Your Paris trip sounds wonderful! It’s been a few years since we were last there (we are in Canada), you have brought back some lovely memories. Did you manage to meet Aimee at L’Oisive Thé? I would love to go eat there – it was closed for the August holiday when we were there.
    Wouldn’t it be lovely if Georges came across your flowers?

  2. Patricia, thank you and sounds like a return trip to Paris is in order 🙂

    We did see Aimée – had a typically excellent lunch at L’Oisive Thé and a chat with Aimée at her new knitting/yarn shop, La Bien Aimée, which is very close to the teashop. She and her staff are so friendly and such hard-working young mums, raising their children and succeeding in these wonderful businesses — definitely worth a regular stop!

    Cheers to Canada from Paris 🙂

  3. As always, it sounds fabulous. Just as I feel when I go. .lovely tribute to Lisa. I followed and shared as much of NO Love Locks as I could ..Lisa and her friend worked solidly on this ..and now the City are going to carry on .Brilliant news. Remember we were all meant to have lunch at Aimee’s ..2009. I have been a few times since.how great that she has her new shop around the corner now. Thanks for sharing your trip take care xox

  4. I really enjoyed reading about your trip to Paris…it’s been 4 years since I’ve been there, but you definitely brought me back! I hope you didn’t get caught up with transport issues back to the UK…what misery!

  5. Annie, yes how could we ever forget that fun blog luncheon — too many of us for Aimée’s so we ended up down the street! She really has done well and it’s a joy to see.

    MarthaB, thank you and maybe you also need a return trip to Paris 🙂 The Channel issues seem mostly to be hitting trucks and cars — so awful for everyone. The Eurostar hasn’t been affected as much, thankfully — knock on wood … but it’s a huge problem for everyone involved.

    Cheers and happy travels.

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