Thursday, February 26, 2009
A few things I did NOT do while in Paris: Buy a book in Russian, take a dog to dinner (though I dined alongside many of them, including the stylish platinum blonde Coco Chanel), take a swim in the Seine (wouldn’t that make me in-sane?), buy a half-sculpture at full price, share a glass of wine with the first bookseller to open shop each morning. Good habits I developed: Make a checklist of things to always have along and check it before leaving each day. On my list—map, cap, euros, French/English dictionary, guidebook, scarf, pen and pad, camera and, of course, gloves. I have two good maps, one indexed by street names on the back, another with a metro stop guide on the back; I like the Webster’s New World dictionary because of its compactness; I have four main guidebooks and I alternated them: Eyewitness Guide Series are pretty books and I always get one for each city or country where I am traveling. They are big on colored pictures and dimensional maps but small on text. They are best at day’s end to have a look and see where you have been, in my opinion, rather than trying to follow along with the book in hand as you go. Pauline Frommer’s Paris (she of the Frommer guides family) is great, with good text and very good walking tours with neighborhood maps, and the Rough Guide to Paris is a gem as well. Both Frommer and Rough have good sections on French history and I got in the habit of reading and rereading these sections while waiting for lunch, or wine, or the check. I have always travelled with Fodor’s Guides and I still like the one for Paris a lot. Their method of identifying places, hotels, restaurants, and such with a star and sometimes with the “Fodor’s Choice” star is really helpful. The Fodor’s France is great to have along when you leave town.
Tonight it was a “hello/goodbye” party and it was just the best. Gathering for champagne at Nancy Machiah’s were the people who have made this trip so much more meaningful and just plain fun than it would have been otherwise: Paris pals Martine Landy, Florent Andrieu and Gwen Auge, Thomas Spencer, Itai Daniel and a new acquaintance, Ian Walker (from Charleston, SC, but here to spend a while in his Paris apartment), as well as ex-pats from Lexington Zach Ullery and Emma Atinay. We had the camera out (l to r: Ian, Gwen, Florent, Nancy, Emma, Martine, Thomas), proposed toasts, nibbled on pate, made promises to meet again. Then we finished the night in grand style at a Thai Restaurant (Itai, left, and Zach, with Emma, actually joined us there) across the river in the 7th arrondissement. Warm feelings around the round table, a night to remember. Nothing, not a thing, could have provided any better icing on my French cake more perfectly than the people here tonight. I will remember, and will miss, them all.