It is early, grey, rainy and cold. The streets are nearly empty save for me and my Vélibre and a few other earlybirds like me here and there, now and again. I am wearing my favourite black dress and am seated at Le Pierrot in the fifteenth, sipping my second noisette and smoking my second Gauloises Blondes. I am basking in the peace and quiet that only this time of day and this type of weather bestows. The (other) tourists are still asleep and the city looks naturally black and white.
This is the Paris I love.
Sitting in some coin perdu, as far from the Champs-Élysées as possible, reading, writing, observing normal life here, and playing along. This is how I like to spend my days. For the most part.
Yesterday I went with a friend to a little town about seventeen kilometers north of Paris called Enghien-les-Bains. A tiny little unknown town as pretty as can be, not found in any tourist guide, it is known only by native Parisians. We went there, en scooter, via the périphérique and then on the autoroute. This is where a big truck came up behind us, honking for us to go faster, then zoomed by to pass us, then put on his brakes in front of us for revenge. Seeing the back of that truck suddenly come up way-too-close at a speed of ninety kilometers an hour with only my skinny jeans between me and the pavement was enough for me. I didn’t even have to beg my friend to take side roads instead.
One motorcycle accident this summer is enough.
From that point on we drove through beautiful, quaint little town after beautiful, quaint little town en route to our destination. Stains, Montmagny, Deuil-la-Barre. Once arrived, we enjoyed a picnic of soft, spicey cheese, charcuterie, olives, pickles, pâté, baguette, grapes, and crème caramel. And red wine, of course. His beautiful, black scooter within view, our helmets strewn on the grass beside us, the pretty lake before us, the hot sun in a near cloudless sky above us, in this lovely little town outside of Paris.
A perfect day with a handsome friend I may never see again.
The French would embrace such a tragedy; would say it is beautiful this way.
But I am not French! (Well I am, but…)
Five days left in Paris.
Then home to figure out what it is exactly I am doing with my life…