Thursday, March 19, 2009

I love Paris in the springtime.

Today was an absolutely delightful day. Yesterday, I had unruly, hyperactive students (adults!) who drove me to despair and I actually cried on the busride home; I was determined that today would be a better day. Today was a strike day in France. Yes, again. I lucked out, though: the metro was running normally, perhaps even smoother than normally because so many people stayed home.

Here's what made it great:
1). I gave a one-on-one English class to my favourite student this morning. I have such a crush on this woman. She's incredibly sophisticated and elegant, has lots of opinions and interests (a big plus when it's a conversation-based class), and was born with the French scarf-tying gene. How do they do it? If I wore scarves the way this woman does, I would look like a Girl Scout leader, or a clown, or maybe this chick.

2. After class I headed downtown and met Mazarine at a cafe. I was really early so I got off at the Concorde metro stop and had a leisurely stroll through the Tuileries gardens, along the Seine, and across to the Invalides. Paris is gorgeous in the spring, and today was perfect: about 60 degrees, feeling much warmer in the bright sun, and full of tourists. Tourists? But don't we despise tourists? Absolutely not. It lifted my spirits to observe these happy visitors wandering around, snapping photos, taking in the beauty of the city, and obviously enjoying themselves. In contrast, the Parisians looked relatively dour and grim, skittling along the sidewalks in their black wool coats. I was stopped by two American tourists, a couple in their early 60s, who wanted to know what the Invalides were. Is that where Napoleon is? They were from Nebraska and on their first trip to Paris, and they were so obviously delighted. It was a real joy to speak to them.

Mazarine and I went to a cafe near Invalides and ordered two glasses of Brouilly - yes, at 3.30pm. That made it taste even better. I was introduced to Brouilly by my friend Dr Mmm when she was visiting Paris last August. Dr Mmm is very, very good at Paris. She knows where to go, how to dress, what to do, what to order, and when things will be open. She has a sixth sense for Parisians and how they will behave. She also really likes Brouilly and I think she's spot on: it's a red wine that is both light and full-bodied at the same time. It's a Beaujolais wine made mostly from Gamay grapes; the taste is fruity, the colour is cranberry and slightly transparent. It is drunk young and often slightly chilled. It's not expensive and people who claim to "only drink white wine" would probably like it. It's not a wine to drink with a hearty winter meal, but it is a fantastic wine to drink on a sunny spring day, sitting outside in a cafe in the 7th arrondissement in Paris.

Mazarine insisted, for practice, on speaking French, and we discussed our futures. Both of us are in rather strange professional situations, unable to do exactly what we want, and simultaneously questionning exactly what it is we want anyway. I don't know if my career path is any clearer, but we had a great time and I realised that my French has gotten much better since I arrived here 7 months ago. About bloody time, too!

3. MCM called me to say that he had a wonderful day, too, and was approached about whether he would like a very, very cool job, should it become available in a few months. Walking home from the metro, I was in a great mood: I had a great day and I knew that MCM would be home for dinner - he's had a lot of evening work events recently. I decided to buy a little dessert, une millefeuille, along with my pave, a dense square loaf of white sourdough bread. Then I stopped in the florist - Special 7 Tulips for 1.90 Euro! The florist laughed as I daintily walked off with one arm full of bread and a little paper-wrapped cake, the other holding a small bouquet of purple tulips. I must have looked like an overgrown flower girl. Actually, since I was wearing my French-blue wool coat and black flats, I probably looked exactly like this famous Parisian.

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