Le Premier Jour

It’s 9:32 Paris time, and 3:30 Toronto time, and I’ve been up since yesterday at six a.m. I’ve spent over 12 hours trying to fly to another corner of the globe, and I’ve discovered that I can’t sleep on a plane without some kind of drug-induced stupor. Which I didn’t have this time, so this will have to be brief, because I’m crashing. How lame!

I began to gnash my teeth and give up hope of ever getting to our destination, when the French country side finally came into view from the airplane. Acres of farm land looked like a child’s elaborate play thing, perfectly pieced like patchwork. Then, a delicate spire rose from it all, as if someone had plunked a little, finely-carved chess piece atop the greenery. I gasped. It was involuntary, but there it was. In among a couple of scattered high-rise buildings dotting the landscape (which seemed very strange) was the Eiffel Tour. I got a little bit misty.

I booked it here in a taxi, where I saw the colour of the city, and the horrors of Parisian traffic unfold before me in a riotous fashion. Just as I was starting to think that all major freeways look the same around the world (The first thing I saw was Ikea!) we were burped out into Montmartre, and all of it’s wildly ethnic glory. Motorcyclists and Scooter drivers rule the streets here, and nobody is safe. Cyclists weave in and out of traffic like nobody’s business, and I didn’t see a single helmet all day long. I did however see a dude with his cat riding on his shoulders.

Montmartre is rough around the edges, but it’s mixed with the most beautiful old architecture. It feels like New York made me feel – vibrant, eager to be out among the people, and unsure of what to expect. Montmartre feels like New York’s highly romantic, very street savvy, definitely Algerian girlfriend. Perhaps you can see what I mean from the photos taken from the cab above.

Sacre Coeur is a two-minute hop, skip, and jump from my doorstep. I intend to hang out in the hood tomorrow, and will take more photos, but I gave you a little taste (before my battery died!) The carousel is at the base of Montmartre. I’ll also take photos of my courtyard tomorrow because it’s absolutely darling. The apartment is tiny, but it’s very clean, and has everything I need. Well, almost everything.

I met my lovely friend Lenni Jabour www.lennijabour.com at the steps of Opera Bastille, and she and I went for a big wander around her neighbourhood, stopping for a snack, and a Kir (a lovely little drink made with creme de cassis and white wine) at the Cafe Divan. Then we wandered to la Place des Voges www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_des_Vosges and then toured around Le Marais. Le Marais is incredible. I wish that photo of the wisteria were a little more clear. The whole area was filled with surprises like that around every corner, and people were all sprawled out together having naps in Place des Voges like an overgrown kindergarten class. I can’t even imagine that in High Park! We sniffed perfume, touched pretty clothing, went to the most meticulous home organizing store I have ever seen (my friend Amanda would die!), and then I had to bail because I could scarcely keep my eyes open. Before she left me, Lenni kindly showed me how to use the Metro, and even demonstrated how to purchase (and use) Carnets. I am now confident enough to explore on my own.

I thought I was in for the night, but my tummy is now growling, and though I am so very, very, sleepy, that tiny bistro around the corner with the flickering candles and darling little table cloths is calling my name. With a sexy French Accent.

A Demain!

‘Twas the Night Before Paris

I’m going to barf.
And I’m certainly NOT going to sleep!
This insane level of excitement can only be compared to the absolutely sleepless Christmas Eves we had as children. Sadly, there is nobody here to stay up with all night whispering loudly to. Not-so-sadly, my parents aren’t in the next room yelling at me to go to sleep. No matter what, there will be something fabulous under my tree tomorrow. I feel like I should be leaving out milk and cookies.

I’ve re-packed my suitcase three times. It’s very full. I was going to save space in case I needed it for my purchases, but I just can’t seem to pare down my contents. I’m sure I won’t end up wearing half the stuff I’m bringing (like the bathing suit, for example) but I would hate to be unprepared! I have at least three versions of the perfect evening out dress, four different “I’m cute, it’s spring” numbers, and only one pair of pants. It seems really wrong to wear pants in Paris. Laugh if you must.

Thank you to all of my friends and family who have generously loaned me various gadgets and who-dads to make my travel experience more enjoyable. I notice nobody ponied up with any sedatives, so I guess I’ll have to fly au naturel. I’ve received no less than three different versions of how to get proper rest and avoid dehydration on the plane. If I were to combine all three, the end result would be me escorted off the plane in cuffs at ‘ol Charlie De Gaulle.

I will admit to being scared. I’m not sure what I’m scared of, exactly. I think it’s the vast unknown. Definitely the possibility of being lonely. Most certainly of having to be on a plane (I still don’t understand why or how they work). I’ve got a little anxiety over being alone at night in a strange city. Perhaps drinking wine from a baby bottle will help with all of this. (yes, there’s a restaurant where you can actually do this. I’m not sure why…)

My mom has been doing this very cute thing each morning this week, where she emails me a different image of Paris with a little count-down of the number of sleeps left. It’s sweet to see what Paris looks like in her imagination. Lots of beautifully composed photos of famous landmarks.

Above is a little taste of what it looks like in mine…


This is my current theme song. If you’ve never heard it, you should find a copy, stat.

Peter Sarstedt
26/02/1969 – 4 weeks at #1 – 16 weeks on chart

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there’s diamonds and pearls in your hair, yes there are

You live in a fancy apartment
Off the Boulevard Saint-Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel, yes you do

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I’ve seen all your qualifications
You got from the Sorbonne
And the painting you stole from Picasso
Your loveliness goes on and on, yes it does

When you go on your summer vacation
You go to Juan-les-Pins
With your carefully designed topless swimsuit
You get an even suntan on your back and on your legs

And when the snow falls you’re found in Saint Moritz
With the others of the jet-set
And you sip your Napoleon brandy
But you never get your lips wet, no you don’t

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Won’t you tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

Your name, it is heard in high places
You know the Aga Khan
He sent you a racehorse for Christmas
And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh, a-ha-ha-ha

They say that when you get married
It’ll be to a millionaire
But they don’t realize where you came from
And I wonder if they really care, or give a damn

Where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I remember the back streets of Naples
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-born tags, so they try

So look into my face Marie-Claire
And remember just who you are
Then go and forget me forever
But I know you still bear the scar, deep inside, yes you do

I know where you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
‘Cause I can look inside your head

(Thanks Miss Alex!)

Exfoliating All the Way to the Champs Elysees

Four more days.
Can you believe it?
I can scarcely contain myself.
What I also can’t believe is that the entire lower half of my body is smeared with splotchy orange streaks that are actually getting darker as each day passes. Thank you Kiehl’s.
With spring in the air and all of my favourite skirts taken out of storage, it occurred to me that my legs are not unlike the pasty, clammy flesh of a freshly plucked chicken. So on Saturday, when I ran all of my last-minute trip errands (on foot, thank you very much) I added some very expensive self-tanner to the mainicure, pedicure, and…er…other bits of grooming that took place.
I got home, read the directions, and even consulted the internet, applying liberally here, and sparingly there, and low and behold, I look like one of those unfortunate souls with a pigment deficiency. Splotchy, Sexy, Good…
A dear friend (who is also very pale – but on her it’s lovely!) suggested hydrogen peroxide, but guess what? It doesn’t work either.
Perhaps someone has a belt sander that I could borrow?
On the up side, a very kind Facebook friend, (who barely knows me, but who must be psychic) sent me this link! Guess what I’ll be doing next Monday morning?


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