So much happened today. I arrived at the airport and was chauffeured in no less than a Mercedes Benz to my motel. The reception desk managed to find a room so I could check in early and proceeded to have a couple of hours sleep! Refreshed I had two hours to find cafe Flores – yes the same one referenced in miss Fisher’s Murder mysteries and the same place that Simone de Beauvoir and her literary friends used to hang out in and where they also used to go to write. But I get ahead of myself. Yes I walked – and the walk to Bastille only took about 20 mins and that was where I decided to find lunch. I think the cafe was called Cafe Phares where I proceeded to enjoy and savour my first coffee! You should have seen the crema! Stayed there the whole time! And not a hint of burnt bitterness or mud! Subsequently I ended up having three coffees throughout the day and at every place was the same! I could fall in love with coffee here!
Anyway, as I sat out the front of Cafe Phares, overlooking the street and trying to negotiate a menu a my order, after the waiter left me, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth people who were refugees or who migrated to Australia coped! Here I was in France with so much to say and no-one to share it with or to babble on to about how I was feeling and what I was seeing. It almost felt like I was in some kind of babble where no matter what I said it would not be understood or fully understood. I think of the boys and men who arrived at our soccer club all those years ago! Some had barely been in the country for even 6 months! Suddenly their achievement feels even more inspiring! How do people do this and avoid becoming isolated from the world around them? As lack would have it, an English speaking Spanish woman who lived in Paris sat beside me and we proceeded to have a chat! l suspect she was hoping to find someone wanting a guided tour but I was heading off on my literary tour and already had somewhere to stay! It was also here that I was approached by a beggar wanting money! She was all decked out with a one arm crutch! And I just said, “Non”. At the same time, the waiter must have spotted her because he too moved around my table and told her no too! I then watched her ‘hobble’ towards another table where the two men sitting there proceeded to offer her some bread. She then proceeded to hang around for a few minutes surveying the possibilities for move customers holding onto her crutch! That said I have seen throughout my walking people just lying on the ground sleeping, One man, standing in a door well drinking a can of coke and coughing like he was sick; a young mum Walked passed me with her three children – most gorgeous, cute kids – running alongside the pram and she proceeded to call out to me! Again I said, “Non” and kept walking. First time I’ve ever been nervous about what little kids might do! I even watched a man steal a cooked lobster from a seafood stand and walk off! Just had a quick look around’ saw no one manning the stand, and popped it under his hoodie! Part of me wanted to know if I should call out ‘thief!’ Or not! I chose the latter and just had a bit of a chuckle to myself.
My quick-ish walk to Cafe Flores where I was joining the literary tour took way longer than I expected. Did you know, that in Paris every building has its own individual number regardless of how much space they take up? Well, my feet and legs learnt that the hard way! Cafe Flores was at 172 Boulevade, St Germaine de Prez.
I nearly didn’t make it on time and in the process did not buy the cheap umbrella what I saw because I wanted to make sure I arrived on time! Yes, you guessed it! Later in the tour it bucketed down and I ended up drenched a looking like a drowned rat! Mind you that brought us to the first cafe where we were stopping for a break and Miriam, our tour guide discovered for herself a beautiful cafe that saves great coffee, has a decent toilet and the most exquisite desserts!
Desserts here seem very cheap, so I can see I might get into trouble along one way!!! We selected the coffee and mini selection and savoured the taste and texture of a beautiful sweet bread cake, chocolate mousse and creme de la bruille! The tour itself was fascinating and yes I can say now that I have seen Noter Dame cathedral, the Louvre, the Eiffel tower, and the Pantheon. Mind you the Luxembourg gardens and fountain were beautiful!
I have seen where Benjamin Franklin and co wrote and signed the treaty of independence, where Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison died and seen where famous feminist writers lived such as Margaret Duras.
We even came across a bookshop called Des Femmes that was a feminist book shop!
I so wish could read in French! Being in the bookshop reminded me of the bookshop in Hong Kong airport where everything was written in Chinese language – yes the symbols! Just beautiful to be surrounded by so many beautiful books, yet disappointing that I could not access the thoughts and the rhythm of the language! There’s a whole literary world out there yet to discover! Mind you, loved seeing Geronimo Stilton in Chinese! That gave me a giggle – I used to read Geronimo Stilton to the boys when they were younger!
At the end of the tour I still had to get back to the hotel. It was decided that the best way for me to do that without walking too much was for me to use the Metro – and I did! Actually it was much easier than I expected and I nearly stayed on it just to have a look at more of Paris and its suburbs but hunger a tiredness had taken over and so I alighted at Bastille station and proceeded to find Rue Amelot and walk back to the hotel! By this stage I have been walking for a good part of six hours! All I wanted was to head back to my room and put my feet up but no – just ahead of me was the choice of three cafes to eat at and with the advice of a couple of women sitting and chatting I too sat down! Well, the waiter who served me was just beautiful. Very quickly he put me at ease with my language deficiency and between the two of us l ordered my meal and tasted my first glass of wine in France! He even complimented me on my French and my accent-thinking I must have studied it for a while. Very charming!
That said, a couple of people have complimented me on my pronunciation so that has been very kind of them. How game was this though? As I was sitting and waiting for dinner, a woman was walking passed with a King Charles Cavalier that was the spitting image of ‘Maverick’ my sister’s family dog. Before I could stop myself I had already started to comment – in English! Well, to my amazement, she turned back and again had a chat and she let me pat her dog! It didn’t seem to matter that neither of us could really make heads or tales of what we were saying!
Anyway, the night has come and gone and a new day is beginning! I’m not sure I will do much today as my injured leg is feeling a bit sore but let’s see how I feel after breaky!