I arrived in Paris for my last three weeks of this European trip on Thursday evening. After dropping my suitcase off in my fourth-floor apartment, thankful for the elevator, I headed back out to meet a friend for dinner. Unfortunately, the following two days did not live up to this auspicious beginning.
Illness and an awful headache kept me in, and though the time was productive, academically speaking, it was rather depressing to be stuck inside when I had planned to explore Paris a little more and hit the ground running with my research. Oh well. C’est la vie.
This morning after dragging myself out of bed, I discovered I finally had a little more energy and put it work cleaning the kitchen and putting my belongings in some semblance of order. After a quick shower, I prepared to step out of my apartment for more than groceries. Though I didn’t get to the Latin Quarter as I had originally planned today, I had a great visit with my mom, which reminded me how fortunate I am to be here, and that I vowed to make the most of my time here, sick or not. So, armed with my laptop and a general sense of location, I set out to explore my neighborhood and find a café in which to work.
My apartment, though beautiful, is chilly, and believe it or not, does not have a single blanket in it, apart from the enormous comforter on the bed. Since I hadn’t packed many winter clothes for this trip, I decided I had better find a café. After all, if Simone de Beauvoir spent more time in her favorite café than her chilly abode, why couldn’t I do the same? Besides, the life and activity of cafés drive the loneliness away and often provide great people watching. Maybe it will inspire ideas for a story or two as well…
On my brief promenade, I discovered that most of my neighborhood is residential. There are a number of grocery stores and boulangeries (bakeries) within a five-minute walk, a beautiful brick elementary school, a park where the sounds of ping pong and giggles reach the street through the surrounding hedges, and a sports and activity center. My apartment is also near the Eiffel Tower, which greeted me when I arrived my first night and welcomed me back home after dinner.
Since it was a Sunday, few restaurants were open, so I ended up essentially where I began my walk at Café Lutetia. The hum of the café crowd, familiar sounds of a cappuccino maker, and the comforting smells and warmth of my usual café allongé provided the perfect setting to return to my project on the conceptual development of civilization in French discourse. What more fitting location could I find to inspire work on this paper than Paris in the fall with plans to return to the national library the next day and a visit to Musée du Quai Branly in the near future?
After finishing my work in the café, I set out for an evening run – my favorite way to enjoy the city. I had intended to head towards the Eiffel Tower, but I think I took the longest way possible to get there from my apartment. However, my meandering route allowed me to explore areas of the city I hadn’t seen before. I knew the general direction I needed to head, so I continued making turns as the mood struck, letting my inner compass guide me. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the trees gave way to the grass and gravel of Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. I had just passed several cafés that looked familiar and knew I was getting close, but popping out from the shadowed street into the park and watching as the Eiffel Tower was lit for the night still took my breath away.
Tomorrow I have a little time before the Bibliothèque Nationale opens (2pm) and plan to explore a little more before getting back to work. I hope to make some time soon to relate stories from my last trip to Paris as well. Stay tuned!