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a summer day in Paris

My last morning in Amsterdam, I was hoping to walk around the old city on the way to the train station, but it was raining, so, after a restless night, I had a quiet morning before the midday train to Paris. So smooth, so easy, 3 1/2 hours through mostly green farmland. Many wind turbines, although just as we were leaving Holland, there was one real windmill.

Arrival in Paris one minute early, and then the fun began, looking for the right metro, a long walk through a tunnel under the Gare du Nord along with half the people in Paris, to get the metro to Belleville. But I got there, then got lost finding the apartment, but got there. Lynn, Denis and I were reunited. It’s a lovely bright apartment with just a few problems, the greatest being that Lynn rented it because, although Belleville is quite far northeast from the centre of Paris, there’s a great metro line, the #2, that goes everywhere from here. When she arrived, however, she learned that the #2 line is being shut down from tomorrow till next Friday, that is, our entire stay here.

However. There are other metro lines, we’ll just have to figure it out. Paris is preparing for the Olympics and there’s work going on everywhere.

Madame made us a delicious dinner followed, of course, by the cheese platter, and the three of us jabbered, as we do, as we have been doing for many decades. Dear dear old friends.

Today, we went to L’Ebauchoir, a good restaurant Lynn and I discovered by chance more than ten years ago and have since recommended to many friends who’ve adopted it too, including my neighbour Monique and friend Eleanor. The meal was, as always, superb, appreciated even by M. Blin, who is shall we say hard to please. French, don’t you know. But he enjoyed it too. And then Monsieur set off back to Montpellier, and Lynn and I began our solo adventure together. We walked — nearly 8 kms. according to her phone — around Bastille, a long sit in the sun at the Place des Vosges, meandered across the river, and there was Our Lady, battered, held up by a million scaffolds, but as beautiful as ever. They’ve put a viewing platform in front of her, a staircase to nowhere like in Times Square, jammed with people just looking at her over the hoardings that enclose her now.

We made our way through the 5th to my hotel, le Port Royal, to pick up the suitcase I’d left there, and then to figure out how to get clear across the city to home. Ah, the 91 bus would take us nearly there, perfect. We hopped on, and six minutes later were told for a reason we didn’t understand that the ride was over. “That’s France,” Madame said, and standing on the sidewalk, phone in hand, she figured out another route. We got one metro, transferred to another, and finally got home, nearly 15,000 steps later. We are on our computers, will eat leftovers with not much wine because we shared a bottle at lunch.

This is a new view of Paris, up here. This apartment is extremely reasonable and has a fine kitchen where Madame can cook, so we will hardly eat out. She is, of course, after five French children and over fifty years in France, a terrific cook.

Tomorrow and Monday, no definite plan, depends on the weather. We are so compatible, my friend and I, who met outside a modern French literature class at Carleton University in September 1967. I was at her wedding to Denis in northern France in October 1971. She was at my wedding party — where Anna was the star guest — in August 1980. What a gift this lifelong friendship is. I told her today she’s the most positive person I’ve ever met. This is not something she can say to me, but I guess I have my qualities.

Pictures: Last view of Holland, from the train. After the meal — mellow. La Place des Vosges — it was 27 degrees today! Bizarre, won’t last, but le tout Paris was out. L’Hotel du Sens, built in the Middle Ages, with its lovely patterned gardens. Notre Dame’s scaffolding from behind, and the view from the front. The cafés were packed; this is a city that understands and honours street life.

 More anon. Stay tuned.

Oh, one more thing: I have a cold. Don’t know how that happened, but yes, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat. C’est la vie. My friend never gets sick, and I get sick all the time. More positivity, please!



5 Responses to “a summer day in Paris”

  1. Juliet in Paris says:

    Watch out for pickpockets! Everywhere, but especially on the metro (gangs of gypsy girls.)

    That was very courageous of you to navigate the metro at the Gare du Nord, not an easy place. (I know it well.)

    From Port Royal, you could’ve taken the RER B and changed to the metro line 11 at Chatelet that goes straight to Belleville. (31 minutes). Use the / itinéraire website. It gives you options.

    Should you find yourselves at Bastille again, may I suggest that you walk the Paris equivalent of the New York High Line? It’s just beautiful. Entirely pedestrian, you wend your way through a section of Paris, past apartment buildings and through gardens and above green spaces. It’s called La Coulée Verte.

    bon séjour à Paris !

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    Merci, Juliet. Yes, the Gare du Nord was a challenge, for sure. Will be careful in the metro, thanks for the advice. Yes, there are lots of alternative choices in the absence of Ligne 2. I have just discovered the RATP site and am figuring it out for the travels I have yet to do. Right now, though, on the sofa under a blanket with honey tea. A whole day in Paris, on the couch. Phooey!

  3. Beth Kaplan says:

    Theresa, bag bought on sale in Montpellier in 2009. So useful for travel that I keep it now for trips. A cross-body bag – will not be left on a train!

  4. Theresa says:

    I love the colour and the size. And I second Juliet’s recommendation of La Coulée Verte. Not only is it a gorgeous walk, high, among plantings, but there are wonderful little shops underneath (or were, when I walked with my friend and my husband there) — a violin maker, all kinds of artisans…

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.