Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Last Day in Paris … for the Time Being

Fortunately, a couple of days ago, I had sense enough to start packing up things I wasn’t going to need.  Which was most of the clothes I brought with me but didn’t receive until two weeks after arriving, thanks to British Airways.  Two weeks without, you learn not to miss things.

In an effort to fit my new purchases in my already overweight jammed packed suitcase, I was going to have to offload some stuff.

First stop was my local homeless man, I filled a bag up with left over food, nuts, coke, socks, razors and bits and pieces and headed down the road to deliver.

There he was in his usual position, sitting on a piece of cardboard on the freezing pavement.  As I approached, a giant smile broke over his face.  As I neared, he throws his hands out to greet me, ca va he exclaims.  He compliments me that my French has improved since we first met.  I explain I am heading back to Australie today and I have some things for him.  He shakes and then kisses my hands and wishes me a bon voyage!

I walked away and made sure not to look back.  I assumed he would be looking in the bag and I wanted to give him some dignity. 

When I first arrived in Paris, apart from the odd shop keeper, he was the only person I spoke to.  He gave me the opportunity to practice my French and use my vocal cords.

A mixture of feelings swept over me, I had a smile on my face but sadness was starting to bring tears also.

No time for that.  I must now get back to the apartment and lug all the left over spices, the well hunted down,  bottle of ketchup manis and bits and pieces I was to deliver to my new mate Georgie and return the coffee grinder, she kindly let me use to grind up my spices for the dinner party I had.

It was only right that I took the bus, seeing that she gave me the confidence and knowledge of how to use the Parisian bus system.

We decided, if I got to her apartment early enough and drop off the goods we could slip in one last meal, a lunch, before I was to head off.

I stood on the bus, laden with bags and watched Paris pass by the window.  Georgie was right, the bus is a good way to travel around Paris.

She presented me with two gifts, some Parisian coasters and a bag full of La Craquant au caramel salè.  A lovely sticky, caramel and nut biscuit that the French crumble on top of ice-cream. 

Georgies Tip #3
“They come from Brittany, in a little town called Kergruyant in the Cote d'armor.

There was a Breton festival up in Montmartre, celebrating Erquy.  All the stands up there had different kinds of Breton foods with free samples.  I LOVED the craquante caramel sale so I bought one for me and one for you.  They have them made of algae, or almonds, or apples, or caramel, or blueberries, etc.”

Georgie says they are almost impossible to find in Paris.

I accepted my lovely gifts, we had a quick wine and headed for Bouillon Racine, a restaurant I was hoping to visit before I left Paris.  We went by bus, of course.

Bouillon Racine, formerly the Grand Bouillon Camille Chartier is a beautifully decorated Art Nouveau brasserie, with ornate beveled mirrors that line the walls, stained glass windows, wonderful tiles on the floor and a feast for the eyes.

Situated in the 6th arrondissement, it has a marvelous history, hailing from the early 1900’s, initially a soup shop.  Where diners were offered a bouillon or soup and a meat dish.  These 'soup shops' became very popular serving hearty hot meals to workers and sprung up around Paris.  Now there are only a couple left.

Since then it has evolved and serves more than just soup and meat and is now a protected property.

We had the menu of soup and curried pork and washed down with a couple of glasses of red and shared a crème brulee.

We had the most friendly, lovely waiter, which made it all perfect for a last day in Paris.

It was now time to head back to the apartment for my inspection by Paris Furnished Apartments

One bus stop before mine, I decided to hop off and buy some eye cream for the plane ride from L’Occitane en Provence and walk the rest of the way back to the apartment.  Which meant passing by my homeless man for the very last time. 

My, he has come up in the world since I saw him this morning.  Someone donated to him, an office chair and two cushions.  Now he sits high and proud on his throne and off the footpath.  Once again his face lit up as he saw me approaching, we had our last goodbye and he called out his usual après après (after after) as I rushed to the apartment.

Finally I meet the lovely Clement, from Paris Furnished Apartments, who called me a taxi. 

I took a brief last look at what has been my home for over the past month, took a deep breath and turned off the lights.

We put my luggage into the ascenseur and met it down the bottom of the stairs. Clement put me in the taxi and waved goodbye.

When I began this journey, I offered for you to join me and I would share what I smelt, ate, saw, heard and experienced and you did.

What started out as a therapy to try to heal a broken heart turned into a lot more.

Witnessing my pain and tears, Scotty came up with a plan to try to move me on, distract me and remove me from the memories that haunted me. 

Red, suggested the blog and set me up with a mountain of passwords, a blog page and confidence to write.

Miss Tassie gave me hope and support, as did the Soccer Queen and with their support and well wishes, I packed a bag that arrived late and found myself in Paris on a snowy Christmas morning.

The blog was a way to communicate, give me purpose and share my journey.

What happened along the way, as my heart on my sleeve faded and my tears started to dry, I started to find myself again. Restore my soul, my confidence, my faith in human nature and discover a new Paris and a new me.  I pushed new boundaries, pushed aside insecurities, broadened my comfort zones, met wonderful people and found the kindness of strangers.

As R says, the pain will never leave me it will just shrink into a small piece of the puzzle that makes up all the facets that is me.

Paris the city I love, didn’t disappoint me, she embraced me along with her inhabitants and comforted me back to life.

I am not going to say goodbye to her or to you.  I will continue my research and discoveries of Paris from afar, in preparation for my next visit.

Feel free to comment and contact, if I can share any tips or new discoveries to help you enjoy your Paris, I will.


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