Monday, December 15, 2008

American in Paris

Bonjour Paris! I arrived around noon yesterday after a long, turbulent flight that had me convinced we’d land on the island of Lost before arriving in France. As luck would have it, we survived and my 900 sq ft suitcase and I navigated the wet, cobblestone streets to arrive at my new home for the next 9 days – an apartment off the Rue de Archives in the Marais Quarter of Paris.

Feeling rather jet lagged and sleep deprived, I used my first afternoon to wander aimlessly around the Marais. The quaint beauty of the area is striking, making me feel like I’ve stumbled onto an old French film set rather than walking around a modern day neighborhood in a real life. The shops that line the streets are a mix of boutiques, restaurants, boulangeries, brasseries, chocolate shops, and small markets specializing in fish, meat, or fruits and vegetables – which all display their specialties in storefront windows beckoning for passersby to enter. Unable to resist temptation, and rather hungry, I picked out a delicious looking square of focaccia bread that was covered with chicken, veggies, and spices that I could take to-go as I continued walking. (I’m sure the French translation of what I ate would make it sound much more appetizing and it would live up to its deliciousness. Sadly, my language skills on day one are limited to “si vous ples,” “merci,” and “je ne parle pas francais.”)

The chilly winter temps weren’t keeping people in doors, and the outdoor seating in the cafes was packed with people reading, drinking, and chatting under heat lamps. Almost everyone looked quite stylish – the uniform of choice for men is skinny jeans and converse, while most women were wearing leggings and tall boots. Clearly I have some shopping to do if I’m to fit in. Better get to it!

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