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A Paris Sunday

This morning Lynn and I went to the Marché d’Aligre in the Marais, one of my favourite markets, absolutely overflowing with junk. Such a cornucopia of the cracked, broken and hideous but often genuinely old, you have never seen. Well, I found socks, a turquoise silk scarf and, yes, a beautiful diamond ring, displayed below.

I love diamonds, as perhaps you know, so this was a thrill. And as Lynn said, nobody was hurt digging out this diamond. He was asking 5 euros and I bargained him down to 4. ($6 or so. Give or take.)
Then we walked through the Bastille district and over to the Place des Vosges, one of the loveliest squares in all of Paris. 
By now we were hungry and started looking for a restaurant. I’d heard about the famous falafel place L’As du Falafel in the Jewish district of the Marais, so we went to find it. It must be Passover soon, because the Jewish contingent was out in force. 

We found the restaurant – hundreds of people lined up in all directions. 

So that was out. Tried to find somewhere else not too touristy or expensive … walked and walked. Suddenly we were all the way at the Pompidou. So we got the bus home, went grocery shopping, and cooked. A much better deal – scrambled eggs with Emmenthal cheese and grilled chanterelle mushrooms, fresh bread, and a superb Crozes-Hermitage which was one of my father’s favourite wines. I paid nearly 12 euros for it, 3 times the cost of my diamond, but it would have been exorbitant at home. Scrambled eggs and a fine wine – my idea of a great meal. Followed of course by salad, cheese, dessert, coffee and chocolate. That was lunch, which took from 3.15 to 5.45 p.m. And then it was time to go with Madame to the train station for her train back to Montpellier. How I will miss her. 
Saturday, yesterday, we walked all along the boulevard St. Germain, stopping at Les Deux Magots for a crème – a coffee – sitting in the hot sun like Sartre and de Beauvoir, people-watching, and what a view. The weather was glorious for the whole rest of the weekend. More strolling the length of the left bank, across the bridge to the Grand Palais to see the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit. I’m sorry to say, he did not come off as well as he might have if I hadn’t seen the riveting Cartier-Bresson exhibition the day before. We saw more huge penises being brandished about than I hope ever to see again, framed at least. His flowers were gorgeous, but I just was not that impressed. Maybe you hadda be there. 
We walked slowly back to the Quartier Latin, happened on the store that sells Sempé art and bought a poster, stopped at a crèpe place on the rue Jacob for a delicious bite. And then home, stopping for a rest in the Jardin du Luxembourg, having walked almost all day. Lynn could not stop laughing because at one place, I was looking at some bargain to buy and wasn’t sure, so I said to the salesman, “Je vais penser.” I meant, I’m going to think about it. But what I actually said was, I am going to do some deep thinking. The word I wanted was “reflechir.” Je vais reflechir. I am glad to make my friend laugh. And we laughed today, because at lunch we were discussing Kant – actually Googled to find out what he was about – and shifted seamlessly, instantly, to talking about how the elastic in poor quality socks does not last. I said to her, I do not know another person on earth with whom I can share bargain hunting, French Elle magazine, and deep discussions on how to wear pleated skirts, the penises of Robert Mapplethorpe, grandchildren, dry skin, TV shows and movies, writing, religion, travel, food, wine, and people we’ve known for more than forty years. And, mostly, to laugh as we laugh, so often, at the same things at the same time.
A compatible old friend is one of life’s greatest treasures. As I have said before, gracias a la vida, and I miss you, ma belle. A bientot, j’espere. 

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2 Responses to “A Paris Sunday”

  1. theresa says:

    How lovely this all sounds, Beth. I remember that market in the Marais. I regret not buying some linen sheets there. (Badly soiled but I bet I could've dealt with that, once home…) And the great food in the rue des Rosiers — loved Finkelstajn and brought many treats back to our flat in the rue Aubriot. You are obviously in heaven!

  2. beth says:

    Yes, I am in heaven, Theresa. How great that you remember it all so vividly. It is a marvel to me that I feel so at home in this ultra-sophisticated and ancient city – that there's room for all us international seekers, as the world-weary French pretend we aren't here.

    Hmmm, linen sheets – very classy but an enormous amount of work. Maybe a good call after all.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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