Quiet here this afternoon in the sweet little flat we rented at 2 Rue Guisarde which is located in the 6th here in Paris. I am hesitant to use the word quiet even though the street is not a big one, there is always a continuous stream of noise and activity the likes of which remind you that you are in fact in the middle of a city. Sometimes just folks on foot, young teens and loudly chatting passersby, others, a roar of trucks, road workers, delivery drivers and guys peddling by in a rickshaw, horrible Euro disco blaring from the speakers as if this was some incentive for someone to climb aboard. The bar scene on our little street, and the streets adjacent are furious and there are no fewer than 6 restaurants or cafes on our tiny block alone. Italian, Tapas, classic bistros and brasseries drawing people in at all hours of the night, spitting them out on to our little street full of wine and feverous merriment. My first or second morning here, once again unable to sleep, (like being across the world is going to help that problem) I was sitting at my little dining table, cup of steaming hot green tea glued to my hand as the voices down below climbed up the outer sides of our building and landed with a thud on my table like the morning paper. The last of the nights party monsters stumbling home and at just the same time I watched the lights flicker on at the Italian restaurant across the way, one of the team of staff, there at 4:30 AM, to clean, prep and prepare for lunch service. Pretty amazing to watch part of the city crawl home and the other part start percolating to life in the same exact moment.
So yeah, quiet might not be the right term for this place, hell anyone that has heard the recyclers come, the ear-splitting clang of joyously consumed wine and beer bottles tumbling into the belly of the incredibly clumsy sounding trucks knows that these tight street make one very aware you are not alone here….I kind of love it for that. Except when I don't of course. But right now, the lunch crowd is finishing up on this Tuesday afternoon. The church bells have a few more hours before they go off, the kids likely back in school or maybe on their way home and there is just the distant clank of people on the sidewalk savoring the last of their café or bottle of wine. The servers are huddled beneath awnings taking long drags of a much needed smoke while chatting on their cell phones, their words I don’t understand but the sentiment very familiar. I do love the voyeuristic part of travel, I don’t think I knew just how much until this trip.
Of course I’ve been to Paris before, quite a few times in fact but it was always at the beginning or the end of a trip that took place in other parts of France. My first time here I had all of 3 days to see the city, one on the way in and 2 before lugging off after 25 days saturated in the wine growing regions of the gorgeous country. So in and out has always been the way I’ve seen this place which is why when my friend Amy and I concocted the plan to have she and my husband run the Paris marathon together, and it just so happened to fall a couple weeks before a wine/work trip I planned on taking, well I knew I was to see Paris is a whole new light.
Amy loves Paris more than any person I’ve ever known. She spends months here alone, eating, drinking, shopping, cooking and exploring and she and I have always shared a love of France but before this trip had yet to experience together. My passion has always rested in places like Beaune, Loire and Champagne and hers in the big, bright, adventure and history drenched city of Paris. To be here together was something of a dream for the two of us.
Now Amy and I are very, very different people. She can visit and re-visit the museums she loves, stroll through the parks and markets for hours just wandering, wondering and wandering and I, well I am more of plant myself somewhere and watch the city tell me who it is kind of gal. Amy is a professor, a passionate and voracious reader of literature, not to mention she has made this sort of her second city so she wears it like a glove. I had wondered if I would be able to keep up with her but after breaking my leg early this year, I knew I would not, not in way that I’d hoped anyway. Not the end of the world in the least as when you are a close as she and I, you have no need to cling to each other and we just fine wandering and roaming in our own way and then coming together when there was something she couldn’t wait to show me. We also had to squish a marathon in there too so as always, there wasn’t nearly enough time and last night, her final night, I was hit hard with a combination of, well of I don’t know what but I couldn’t eat, drink, really even move that much and slept over 14 hours. Had to cancel on her last meal here……still stinging from that and as I sit here, her flat above mine now empty, not only physically but metaphorically, my loud little pad here feels really, really quiet.
Got one more night here before taking off for Normandy in the morning. My 14 hours of sleep and night of complete shutdown has left me a little lonely, way fucking hungry and wanting to spend this evening, my last evening in Amy’s city, a coupe de Champagne in my hand, wandering and wondering. Missing her and going over it all in my head and reliving our too few days here.