On Thursday I had lunch with my Parisian friend Antoine, but first we stopped by Design et Nature, a taxidermy shop in my neighborhood that I had posted about last month. It was closed — because Thursday was of course the day on which Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, which, despite France’s laicité, is a jour férié. It was fun anyway to look through the windows, and to compare the wild beasts inside with those outside.
After lunch and a visit to my apartment Antoine rode home to Montmartre on a velib’ bicycle from the nearby stand. I got one too and rode with him a few blocks before we parted. After a short ride and walk the sun was so pleasant that I decided to jump on the métro to the Jardin de Reuilly, my favorite sunbathing park. After soaking up a few rays I felt like some more bicycling, so I picked up another velib’. I saw a sign to Bois de Vincennes and thought, “Pourquois pas?” As it turned out there was a dedicated bicycle lane all the way! The park was packed — suboptimal for cycling — but the happy energy was infectious.
There was a moment of frustration when I tried to return the bike at a velib’ station that was closed for construction, but my pocket atlas showed the location of another nearby velib’ site so all was well.
I then caught up with Rafael and we joined an impromptu gathering of gay Harvard alumni and friends that I had stirred up earlier in the week. There were lots of surprising connections and interesting conversational topics. I hope to get together with some of these folks later in my stay, and I think friendships were struck also among some of the Parisian members.
We ate at Le Bistrot des Compères in the Saint Paul area of the Marais. I was quite impressed with the food — and the service.
After dinner Rafael and I had a drink at — you guessed it — the Open Café — with Steve Christiansen and his partner Jason, who runs a hedge fund. Jason has to work whenever the New York Stock Exchange is open, which means that he’s the early riser when they’re at home in L.A. but he works from 1 pm to 10 pm while they’re in Paris, and in the mornings is a flâneur like me. I got to bed around 1 am and Rafael set out to further explore the mysteries of the Parisian night.