This week has seen several farewell events. Each has been warm and sweet and just a bit sad. You never say adieu in French — always au revoir or something even more casual. Usually you will see the person again (the literal meaning of au revoir), but parting reminds you that there will inevitably be a time when you won’t.
Jeff scheduled his farewell party for Monday night so instead of trying to find another good night in an increasingly busy week I tagged along with his plan, at La Perla, a Mexican restaurant in the Marais. This worked out well since several of our friends hit it off. The event was announced to run from 7 to 9 so my literal-minded friends left for other engagements around 9. But it turned out that Jeff and his friends had no intention of winding down. I had already had two large beers — which is a lot for me — so I was ready for dinner. Jeff’s friends had other plans, however! They ordered a pitcher of margaritas and filled my glass. The combination of alcohol, sugar and salt proved irresistible, and they kept the pitchers coming until we were all a bit bourrée, and the staff had put the chairs up on the other tables as a subtle hint that they were ready to go home. I never did eat anything except a few chips!
Here are the photos of our bien arrosée soirée: https://picasaweb.google.com/rwmack/JihadPourJaffarEtBob?authkey=Gv1sRgCKq-qfeClpGB1wE
Tuesday I decided to spend as a true tourist — I went to the Musée d’Orsay to see the Manet exhibition and to reacquaint myself with the excellent permanent collection. I realized that there is a shorter line for people who have bought tickets in advance but I stood in the regular line — for an hour and a quarter under a scorching sun — in order to have the full tourist experience.
A pushy French woman tried to cut in behind me but I joined forces with an American family to send her packing, though not without first grabbing her photo:
(We did notice that she got away with the same trick a few dozen people later but I dissuaded the American girls from calling the police.)
The art was indeed lovely but waiting in those long lines was enervating, and you could see that most of the (other) tourists were there to be there rather than because they got anything much from the art. I sometimes felt that I was holding up their aimless circulation when I stopped to appreciate a piece. This got me thinking about why people travel like this at all. Can it be a good experience? For many I suppose it’s just something one does because it’s the done thing. And there’s really nothing to be done about it, because if you directed the herd anywhere else that place would be trampled as thoroughly as the present tourist tracks. All you can do is enjoy travel yourself in your own way, and once in a while invite someone to join you.
Tuesday evening was a special farewell dinner indeed! My Parisian friend Jacques took me out to what may well be the most beautiful restaurant in Paris, Le Train Bleu, in the Gare de Lyon. I was astounded by the decor, impressed by the impeccable service, and well satisfied with the meal. As always, Jacques was a warm and engaging companion.
Here are all the photos, including the food and many shots of the stunning interior: https://picasaweb.google.com/rwmack/LeTrainBleu#
Wednesday was mostly spent cleaning, packing and checking out — the inevitable overhead of travel. For the third time I cleaned a Parisian apartment intensively but the owner (or in this case agent) made no show at all of looking around, much less counting the silverware. The lesson another time is that people are pretty casual about this, and they bring in professional cleaners to get the place ready for the next tenants so it’s not important for you to bring the place to a high gloss of cleanliness. Here is a set of photos of the poutres apparentes (exposed beams) in my apartment, as well as views out the windows, including three that I took early this morning, before the streets began to fill. https://picasaweb.google.com/rwmack/59RueSaintSauveur
Wednesday evening Lisa and her partner Ali came over. They brought a bottle of champagne, which we enjoyed thoroughly.
Then we walked down the street to a restaurant that the owners of my apartment had recommended in May, but that I had never eaten at, L’Hédoniste. We had a fine meal, with excellent service. Just after we ordered desserts I realized that I had left my mobile back at the apartment, so Alexis, who had been hoping to join us, had no way to reach us! I ran out of the restaurant and fortunately ran into Alexis just as he was arriving at my apartment. He joined us for dessert and a quick visit to 59, rue Saint-Sauveur before we all parted. It is sad to say goodbye, but I can look forward to seeing Lisa and Ali again in August at our family reunion in Iowa.
Mots du jour: (1) bourrée. Not completely drunk but quite tipsy. (2) bien arrosée. Literally “well watered” but actually “well alcohol-ed.”