Since Tuesday is the day the Louvre is closed, I started by doing some traveler’s housekeeping: found a post office, bought stamps, and rattled some Euros out of the ATM. First really cold day since I arrived, though the rain forecast changed to cloudy. I could have hie’d myself off to a small museum, but elected to do a self-guided walking tour and a picnic instead. Wandered around the Marais following a guidebook until noonish, then crossed the foot bridge over the canal St Martin and strolled along with cobblestone banks. I strolled past moored boats with planters filled with geraniums. This suggests they are houseboats, docked more or less permanently; an upscale floating trailer park, only nicer, because this is Paris.
I sat higher up the bank in a small children’s playground on a surprisingly comfortable wooden bench, curved to fit human contours. The playground was little strict, with a few sleek pieces of equipment on hard ground. It looks contemporary and clean, if somewhat sparse.
Rain mizzled off and on, but not enough to give up my view. I considered taking shelter beneath the footbridge, but kept eating my brie and ham on baguette and before I knew it, the sun came out. For company I listened to an audiobook, (Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett, read by the incomparable Stephen Briggs). I wanted to be able to look around at the oh-so-French cityscape across the water and at the puffy white clouds chasing each other across the periwinkle sky. The playground was part of a public garden with successive garden rooms. It was located just below street level and was elaborately planted with blossoming shrubs, climbing roses on arbors, and a long perennial bed. Two gardeners with hoes, rakes, and wheelbarrows carefully tended the beds as if they were weeding Downton Abby instead of a strip of land that’s basically a public thoroughfare.
I spent a goodly amount of the midday there, doing nothing much. Just being in Paris and thinking how lucky I am. Headed back toward the apartment to have tea and something delicious. Picked up a caramel cake and a tarte citron and happened to notice an optical store. I have checked them out on my walking forays around the city, hoping to find some interesting eyeglasses for my souvenir of Paris. I’ve looked in several shops that were, alas trop féroce pour moi – frames so aggressively bold that they had more personality than I did. But today, ah, I saw a pair in a window that called my name. I practically climbed through the glass to get to them. After an hour of trying a dozen pairs on, I ordered two pairs, one in blues and yellows,
and one in shades of red, both from a Barcelona designer.
How could I choose between them? Plus, it was buy one, get the second pair for 30% off. And I’ll get a refund of 13% of the TVA tax. Such a deal! I showed the patient lunettes vendeuse who assisted me the photo of Em and I at the Mason Murer Gallery opening in our eye-popping colors. “Oh yes,” she agreed, “black frames are too sad for you.” I couldn’t have put it any better.
Tea, my delicious pastries, and I think, an early night. Tomorrow, the Louvre, with audio guides. I can hardly wait.