Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gay Paris (Ode to Gran)

The girls are getting used to the drive to Lyon, so getting to la Part-Dieu was pas grand chose. Having to park however at the Centre Commercial because the Gare Parking was complet ended up being vachement embettant because not only did we have to walk through a huge mall, which is no different than an American mall except for the stores, but we also had to carry all our bags and Daisy in her crate. Traveling with a dog, even with a pocket puppy like Daisy (or Pocket as we sometimes call her) is an effort. But, we made it on time, got onto the wrong car of the TGV and had to run all the way down to the last car at the last minute (with a dog crate,) found our seats on the upper level of this gorgeous high-speed train and collapsed. One hour and 55 minutes of seamless travel and we arrived on time at the Gare de Lyon

Well, if you think that New York is a melting pot, you should see Paris. There are people of all color, shape and size. I am mesmerized by all the African woman in their beautiful, colorful, handmade robes and headdresses. I want to know their stories, imagining all these wild tales, like the ones that Margaret has to tell if you give her time. These women seem so powerful to me, the grand matriarchs.

Taxiing to my new favorite hotel, Hotel Cayré, is a breeze and I am welcomed, as always, as if I was there a month ago (has it really been 10 months?) I have been a loyal fan of the Hotel Lutetia since 9/11, where I was so well and sympathetically treated for 5 extra days when all international flights into New York were canceled. That experience was so etched in my brain that I felt disloyal changing hotels, and fickle even thinking about it, especially since I had become friends with Benoit, the young and dashing head of la Reception. He always found me a quiet room when they were full, always gave me the best rates. Yet, when the Euro gained so much strength against the dollar, even my budget room was costing a fortune, and Benoit again bailed me out and found me a room at Hotel Cayré.

Room 305 looks out onto Rue du Bac, a fabulous little shopping street in St-Germain-des-Pres. It is perfect (and mercifully cool since Paris is broiling at this moment) but for the fact that it’s on a smoking floor, which I sense immediately. There is only one triple out of 75 rooms on a nonsmoking floor and our dear friends Lisa, Paul and Henry, who we’ve come to meet, are in it.

The only 2 things that I want to do with the girls in Paris are go on the Bateau Mouche and go up La Tour Eiffel. I am the worst tourist in the world and generally avoid all things educational, historical. I hate crowds and traffic and lines and waiting in them. As the 6 of us wait for a taxi to take us on an evening cruise, it begins to rain. Thank God Paul Smith, my favorite British store, is one block down on Boulevard Raspail. Saved again, I can go window shopping and it’s Les Soldes. Paul Smith is such an amazing designer. Whenever I go to the show Maison et Objet in Pais, I inevitably get a bit brain washed by all the pretty french things and I always need to shake things up a bit, for visual inspiration. I can always count on P.S. to point me in a new direction. You see a lot of imitators these days, but very few true trendsetters. I buy a man’s hat in a funky floral pattern. I’m a hat person.

Next stop, Bonpoint, my favorite classic kid’s shop on Rue de la Université. Even 40% off, with the Euro at 1.22 against the dollar, everything is unaffordable. I buy Abbie 2 pairs of pink cotton ankle socks and a pink gauzy overcoat thing, which is just soooo Abbie. She looks amazing and feels like a princess. Hallie is just too tall for these clothes, even the size 12. Yikes.

Dinner at Cinq-Mars on 51 rue de Verneuil in the 7th (0145446913) is delicious. Paul and Lisa discovered this small branché neighborhood spot and we have a great meal despite the 100 degree atmosphere. I have a Cardinale pour l’aperitif and a yummy steak dinner. The kids are restless and make 10 trips to la toilette. We leave in a downpour with one small umbrella for 6. We laugh and run and splash through puddles arriving safely home, drenched to the bone. On a bien rigoler.

Loving Paris, as always. (Bonnie, blithe and gay)


Chicago Girl said...

What a wonderful time you are having! I envy you your time there. Enjoy. I'll look foreward to more of your charming updates...

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