My last day was mostly spent on errands, packing and cleaning, then in travel back to Boston. I had a nostalgic lunch at the Comptoir des Archives in the Marais, watching people go by. Then I met the owner of my May apartment, Yannis, who has become a friend as well. Our lively and wide-ranging conversation was in French from the first word, just because it seemed natural to both of us, even though his English is pretty good. And, what is more, he didn’t compliment me on my French! Since Jacques and I also mostly use French my last 24 hours in Paris were almost entirely en français. Yannis helped me downstairs with my insanely-heavy suitcase, then walked me all the way down to the RER train station. I knew I would owe British Airways an overweight fee for the bag but I was surprised to find that it was also over 32 kg, the maximum for a piece of checked luggage! Fortunately it was only a few kilos over so I was able to get it under the limit by moving a couple of items into my day pack. The flights, via Heathrow Terminal 5, were uneventful, except that the service was exceptionally friendly and efficient, despite (or because of?) the ongoing flight attendants’ strike. I handled the shock of everything being in English fairly well, but I found it annoying to overhear people’s inane conversations. It was a relief to arrive back in Central Square, where the conversations you overhear are as likely to be in Spanish, Chinese or Haitian Creole as English. It was good to see Zheng and to sleep in my own comfortable apartment, but I’m sure I will miss my Parisian friends and the texture of life there.
This will be my last daily post, although I plan to put up a retrospective post and maybe one or two little essays. Thank you for looking in on my blog. It has been an important part of the trip for me to be able to share my experiences, thoughts and photos. Feel free to append a comment if there’s anything you’d like to add. Bob
Mot du Jour: “Franklin & Marshall” (fashionable brand of youth-oriented clothing). This brand has cachet in Paris comparable to Abercrombie or Hollister in the U.S., even though the college by the same name is almost totally unknown. The story of how this happened is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_%26_Marshall#Clothing_Company.
Postscript: “Mais Paris est un véritable océan. Jetez-y la sonde vous n’en connaîtrez jamais la profondeur. Parcourez-le, décrivez-le: quelque soin que vous mettiez à le parcourir, à le décrire; quelque nombreux et intéressés que soient les explorateurs de cette mer, il s’y rencontrera toujours un lieu vierge, un antre inconnu, des fleurs, des perles, des monstres, quelque chose d inouï, oublié par les plongeurs littéraires.” Le père Goriot, Honoré de Balzac (p. 13)
My free translation: “But Paris is a true ocean. You will never be able to plumb its depths. Stroll its streets, describe it: whatever care you take in strolling, in describing; however numerous and curious the explorers of this sea, one will always encounter a virgin place, an unknown alley, flowers, pearls, monsters, something unheard of, overlooked by the literary divers.”