Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday Morning Walk

My morning walks in Paris are precious. I kick myself when I’ve been a slug-a-bed and don’t get up and out early enough to catch the pulse of the city before the morning frenzy begins. Sundays, however, it’s pretty easy to beat the crowd. Just me and the street-cleaners, and a few Police guarding the Hotel Matignon or Quai Voltaire. Every day I venture out on foot, without a specific route. The only self-imposed rule is that I can’t copy an itinerary I’ve taken before.

Early this morning on rue de Bourgogne. My heart swells: a newlyweds’ decorated car. I have to admit that I find this French tradition more attractive than the scrawled “Just Married” signs affixed to bridal vehicles in the US (complete with tin cans or accompanying pranks).

To me this elegant French decoration of a car means that a wedding is poignant, not jokeworthy. My former neighbors on the place de la Madeleine kept the white-netting ribbons on their car for months after the wedding ceremony. It seemed that they were proud to demonstrate their newly-married status. I wonder if there is a tradition that determines the length of time to keep the car beribboned.

This couple was married yesterday. The wedding program on the dashboard of their Smart car read “Sophie et Pierre – le 5 juillet 2008.”

Next. The place du Palais Bourbon, behind the Assemblee Nationale, is so evocative. It is one of those “looks like a potential movie set” squares. This incongruous trio of cars was especially appealing.

Down boulevard St. Germain, I am struck by the peaceful beauty of the Solferino metro stop. Usually I am whisking past it on the bus or if walking I’m in a hurry to get somewhere else. Not today. I explore the place Jacques Bainville next door. It is hushed and green. This note on the bench:

Please do not remove before July 7. Thank you!
Message: I have to be away for a few days to sit at my mother’s side during her final hours. [other hands scribbled ‘Strength and courage!’ and ‘See you soon!’] I’m not giving up! I’ll be back after the 7th in order to continue my combat, which I must win! – Captain Jean”

Maybe I’ll stop by there tomorrow to witness the combat, whatever it is.

The park is enchanting.

I finally am on the home stretch. On Sundays most of the newsstands in the quartier are closed, but an older lady sets up a folding card table in a sunny nook of a cafĂ© on rue de Sevres and sells the Sunday papers. I still miss the Sunday New York Times, but have found the acceptable substitute in Paris, Le Journal du Dimanche. I step up and ask like a true Parisian, “Bonjour, madame. Le JDD, s’il vous plait.” We always make small talk about the Sunday weather. "Un euro cinquante." I tuck le gee-day-day under my arm, and round the corner for home.

The narrow street is blocked with big machinery.
Locagrue – rent-a-crane. Someone is installing double-glazed windows, and is allowed to block all traffic for the morning to do so.

Back home to delve into the paper and deal with (or perhaps ignore) lingering internet issues. It's Sunday, why not?


Autolycus said...

I suspect Capitaine Jean's combat might be the same as this rather sad story:

Autolycus said...

That should be said...

I just enjoy so much your "little" observations, asides, and bits of French (with pronounciation) from your walks.
Nothing is too mundane for those of us who love Paris.

misschris said...

That was really fun!

KathyK said...

Who were those people on the front page of the JDD with "Ma Nouvelle Vie"? I wanted to read the story. I agree with the previous comment, it's fun to experience Paris through your eyes even though I'm sitting in St. Paul, Minnesota reading my NYT.

Maryn McKenna said...

@KathyK, that's Ingrid Betancourt, just rescued from being kidnapped for 6 years in Colombia - she has French citizenship and flew there immediately. (Waves at St. Paul from Minneapolis!)

Polly, I am a periodic resident of the 11th, je viens juste de decouvrir votre blog et je l'adore!

Polly-Vous Francais said...


Thanks so much for the link! I'll read it in greater detail when internet is more reliably connected (have to prioritize my on-line time as it's been iffy.

Kathy and Maryn,
The Ingrid Betancourt rescue is a gripping story -- do google it and read all about it. The JDD had an interview with her and I cried reading some of it.

I hope everyone is patient with my replies as I cope with the internet stuff. One new Livebox, complete with the joys of installation in French when my computer commands are in English, and they may send me back to the boutique for another one tomorrow if it keeps crashing.

What fun, eh?

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