Monday, November 18, 2013

Berets and Boisterousness

Seeing Paris through the eyes of visiting friends and family is always a fascinating experience. Over ten years ago, my good friend from college and I ventured to London for a semester to study theatre on a classical conservatory scale. We had one week of vacation in which we traveled to Florence and Paris, for a few days each. This particular friend has always been like a sister to me. We are frequently linked in strangely kismet-like thought processes. However, we also have moments of extreme irritation in which we mainly want to throttle one another. In traveling to Paris, we didn't have any specific disagreements other than the fact that I thought Paris was spectacularly beautiful, and she was dismally unimpressed, having fallen madly in love with London. That being said, my mission was to make sure that "College Sister" loved Paris this time around...

Unfortunately, the day she arrived was typically cold and rainy, so we spent the afternoon relaxing in my apartment after her crazy travels, and prepping for an evening out about town. I had prepped for her arrival by stocking up on groceries and most importantly... wine... The night before, I had been visited by the Peter Sellers movie character lady on my floor again approximately 6 times, wherein which she recommended that I don't eat red meat late night, I don't drink wine except on holidays, and I don't eat sweets because I apparently need to lose a few pounds. In contrast, she also gave me a strange denim shirt that she insisted would look nice on me with a belt, and a bottle of spirulina pills. In all due respect to this woman, I spent the weekend defying every single bit of this advice. And we commenced this agenda by going to Rue Mouffetard for a stereotypically "French" meal, beginning with escargots and ending with chocolate mousse. My friend's visit was basically an excuse for us to eat our way through French decadence...

Sunday we decided to go up to Montmarte and Sacré-Cœur. I have a French friend who told me that native Parisians generally don't find this area as charming as tourists do. Well then slap a beret on my head and call me a tourist because it really is just a magical little village to wander through. We did in fact buy matching French berets so that there would be no mistake what our residency status was, and began the climb. The view is stunning, the architecture sublime, and since you can find your way to the top after making your way through all manner of sex, porn, and peep shops, who can suggest that this area of Paris lacks charm ; ) After taking pictures at the Moulin Rouge, singing to Ewan and Nicole, and dining on crêpes near a famous religious landmark, we had dinner at home and went off to see the first movie I've attended since being in France. In tune with our love of romantic comedy and British humour, we enjoyed a wonderful showing of "About Time" in English with French subtitles.

Monday and Tuesday were a whirlwind of walking, watching and wandering. We passed Shakespeare and Co, Notre Dame, trekked the Champs Elysées up to the Arc de Triomphe, and had drinks with one of my French friends in the evening near République. We were also graciously hosted by a connection through the company my friend works for, and the reason why she was able to head out to Europe in the first place. This lady brought us to an amazing falafel restaurant in the Marais, as well as an indulgently fancy eclair shop. Both of these places I revisited within the week to show off to other visitors. 

On our final night together, "College Sister" and I spent the evening with fancy desserts and wine, par for the course. We pondered our last few days together, reminisced over our younger years, and even managed to skype some mutual friends! It is always an interesting thing to have friends from home come to town. It can fill you with longing for what you left behind, put in to sharp relief how different things are in the present, but also fill you with new hope for what the future may bring while being supported by such an amazing network of love.

My good friend left on a Wednesday morning and my Father and Step-Mother arrived the same evening! Stories of exhaustion to follow...

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