Jaime’s flight was on Sunday afternoon, but we had time for a farewell brunch at Mariage Frères, which Ryan had introduced me to in 2011, and where I had also gone with Gerry in 2012. It was just as wonderful as on previous occasions: the ambiance was sumptuous, the service was impeccable (if not always speedy), and the food was delicious.
I had enjoyed the tea in prior years, but this year I found it really special, and I bought some for myself (as well as a gift packet of the tea Jaime selected).
We had a little time for shopping, at the new Uniqlo store in the Marais.
As soon as Jaime left for the airport I headed over to Lisa’s and Ali’s apartment to drop off some books that Zhizhong had offered to save for my next visit, and various household items I had purchased for my apartment that I thought one of them might like. Both Lisa and Zhizhong were away, but Ali arranged to be available. We had a nice half-hour conversation before I had to head home again to welcome Jacques for an apéro with the last of my rosé. We then strolled down my street to Pamela Popo, a restaurant that Alexis had recommended, but that I had never tried. In part I may have been put off by the decor on the ground floor, which was sort of a retro bar. But we saw people going up a stairway and it turned out that there was a gracious if quirky dining room on the French first floor. The meal was really wonderful!
It was sad to say goodbye to Jacques, but I’m sure we will be friends for life. After dinner I had to pack and clean. It took a while, as usual! Eventually I ran out of steam and set an early alarm, then continued in the morning. Timing was tight, since I had a 10:40 am flight out of Charles de Gaulle, which is normally an hour away, and the managers had refused to set the checkout time before 8 am.
Checkout was uneventful. Fortunately I had noticed that electricity was included under the lease since they had been planning to charge me about 100 euros that I didn’t owe! I had called a taxi because of the tight timing (Jacques had recommended G7 Taxis), a first for me in Paris. The driver was terrific but there were several traffic jams so in retrospect it might have been wiser to lug my big suitcase through the train stations instead, as I have done in prior years. I ended up checking my suitcase less than an hour before departure — which I don’t think would have been allowed in the U.S.
After that everything went beautifully. My frequent flier ticket took me through Delta’s hub in Detroit. This was a minor irritation since there was a direct Delta flight from Paris to Boston leaving at the same time, but it would have cost a lot of extra miles to get on it. The Detroit flight was eight hours but really quite comfortable, with an excellent in-flight entertainment system. The flight back to Boston was on older equipment but only an hour and a half. Both flights were eased by lively conversations with young men in the adjacent seats — something which only occasionally happens.
It was great to be greeted when I arrived by my roommate Vikram, and to sleep in my own bed!
I’ll post an overall assessment of my petit séjour in a few days, but I think it’s fair to say that once again Paris did not disappoint!
Mots du jour: serveur – waiter, server; serviteur – servant. Just in case you might know someone dumb enough to confuse them…