Busy day yesterday, with the drive back to Paris. Liz and I got back around noon--just in time for plenty of weekend traffic! I was glad to have Liz with me. I really don't like driving in Paris. It is nerve wracking. Liz made the comment a few times that she was so appreciative of me driving, as she, too, is uncomfortable in Paris traffic, and with the added complication or not being sure exactly when or where we are supposed to turn. I told her that surprises me, considering she is a pilot and takes all those big planes in and out of the air. She continues to insist that "it is really not difficult to fly a plane." That overwhelms me! Any time I have had a glance of a cockpit I am blown away by all the gages and controls they have to be on top of. I don't think Liz gives herself enough credit!
Once to my hotel, I left my bags and headed out to walk around Paris. I did not have any real destination in mind, I wasn't interested in seeing any specific sites, but just being out in the vibe of Paris and its people. The population has changed a lot since I was here about ten years ago. Much more diverse, and much more casual. And sadly a far greater presence of homeless and needy people, clearly in part a result of the problems in Syria. The firemen (pompiers) were also out in force, selling fundraising tickets at most of the busy corners. From my French class I know that the pompiers have a social presence, at least in the smaller towns. I don't know what that is in Paris, but in the smaller towns they throw celebrations at the station hours on certain holidays, and all the townspeople join in. A few of them approached me and I explained that I was a "touriste", which usually followed with a few questions about where I am from. They are a very pleasant group; Paris and France can be proud of them.
Liz and I met for dinner. We thought we were within walking distance of each other but instead on opposite sides of the river. So we agreed to meet at the metro station near Notre Dame, and find a place from there. I have taken the metro a few times but very rarely, so this was a bit of a new experience. Once again, French class helped me out as I remembered how the stations are set up and named, so it was relatively easy to figure out. Plus, the communication system is much improved, as I think is true with just about any subway system. Time for me to get over how bad it used to be in Chicago 30 odd years ago when all announcements came through completely garbled. Even the subway systems of the world have moved along.
Liz and I had a very traditional French dinner; escargots, canard a'l'orange, creme brulee. The creme brulee was one of the best i have had in years; a perfect combination of cold, perfectly scented vanilla custard and toasted brulee. Liz and I continued a conversation we had started in the drive to Paris; maybe there are other trips we would find interesting to do together. We both want to come back to Sancerre, and also think a barge/bike trip on the Loire would be fascinating. Maybe we could combine these--and maybe our other Sancerre friends would join us (Cynthia--that means you!!)
So it is about time for me to head over to the Hotel Molitor, something I have been looking forward to ever since I discovered the place over a year ago. I have a work friend who lives in Paris and I told him about my trip, and showed him the internet pictures of the hotel. He had never heard of the place and was amazed that I had discovered it, and asked me how I had done so. I had no answer at the time. (Sadly I missed seeing Hugo when I was here because of the delay on my inbound flight). As I have thought further, I think it is one of those internet things where they track your interests and pop things in front of you. Molitor is my maternal grandmother's maiden name, and I find the history of her family to be so interesting, and it is surprisingly well documented through the work of numerous and mostly distant Molitor relatives. So from time to time I do a little geneology study. I think through this I suddenly had a Hotel Molitor ad pop up, which was, of course, intriguing. I am not going to get into the Hotel Molitor right now but certainly will share once I experience it. But for anyone interested, here is a preview: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-7326-hotel-molitor-paris-mgallery-by-sofitel/index.shtml
I think you will immediately see its appeal to me.
So, time to head out. It has all been so great so far and I expect one more day of that. I am ready to jump into that Molitor pool. My swimming suit is sitting on the top of all the things in my bag.