Today I was roused earlier than usual for my morning walk. The upstairs neighbors were having a feisty little morning spat, kind of like Sarko and Sego last night. It was better to get out of the audible crossfire.
And a good thing, because Paris in the tranquil morning hours reveals more than when it is in full swing with the glare of sunshine and commotion and traffic. At the end of my peaceful ramble, I rounded the corner from my apartment and stopped by the newspaper stand to get Le Parisien and Le Figaro to read their respective editorials about last night's debate.
Something looked strange. There were more trees than usual on rue de Babylone. A dozen more, to be precise. Twelve magnolia trees in large white planters were on a flatbed truck outside the back door of the Hotel Matignon, the Prime Minister's palatial residence with beautiful gardens. A Lomarec truck (Location de Materiel pour Receptions, a party rental service) was parked by the security guards' usual place. "Oh! They're having a garden party at the Matignon!" I thought gaily. "What a great day for it!"
Then the reality struck. It impaled me like a slender arrow in the heart.
Mr. Handsome is leaving the neighborhood. This is his going away party.
You see, the French press has been all aflutter about the fact that President and Mrs. Chirac are leaving the Elysee Palace after next Sunday and "downsizing" to a humongous apartment on Quai Voltaire lent to them by the family of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. But I haven't seen much (actually, I haven't looked) about where my dreamboat neighbor M. de Villepin is moving. (I'm not talking politics here when I discuss my admiration for Mr. Handsome-- I don't do that anyway -- I'm talking pure aesthetics. He is a sight for sore eyes, especially in person. Especially female eyes.)
So now he's moving out of the 'hood, to be replaced probably by either Dominique Strauss-Kahn or Francois Fillon. It just won't be the same without him. The daily frisson of possibly bumping into a man with movie-star good looks (okay, or his glamorous wife and lanky top-model kids). Well, c'est fini. Nevermore.
Too bad that shindig at the Matignon is not an American-style block party. The kind where you invite all the neighbors.
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