Get me outta this city
It’s been quite a time in this city. Art has certainly been a theme but not the only one. Others may be “foreign city crash course”, “forced World Cup party fest,” and “indulgence.” It’s really one big blur, but I covered a lot ground, painted a nice spread of Paris aspects, and really got a feel of the Parisian way of life. Here are some highlights:
This one was a request from a friend. The Bastille Market is legendary. Almost a kilometer long row of fruit, fish, spice, fabric, cheese, meat, bread stands etc. that set up in the early hours Sunday morning. The market is bustling with shoppers until all the good merchandise is gone around one. It was tricky to find a spot to set up. I wedged myself between a bread and fish vendor. Lots of different smells wafting around this air tunnel. This had to be a quick painting as I arrived late around ten. I got lost in the confusing narrow streets that change names every 100 feet. A real confidence blow to my sense of direction. So much people traffic! It’s time for me to start working on people and in a city of millions this was a good place to get going. After lots of getting my easel legs kicked out by unaware market goers and bumps to the back leading to large stray brushstrokes I came out with a nice piece. Maybe the best part was hanging out with the bakers and watching out how they wheel and deal.
I have probably eaten over 100 snails here. Some people are turned off by the idea of escargot. If this you, broaden your horizons. They’re like the oysters of the land but not as appalling as rocky mountain oysters. Covered in butter and herbs they are pryed out with a tiny fork and swiftly enjoyed, unless they’re too hot in which case you should wait. Plus you can keep the shells to make a necklace out of later.
The fare here is simple. Usually consisting of one or two ingredients, always accompanied by bread. Fruit stands are everywhere and I highly recommend the flat peaches, a circus in your mouth. As far as the beverage category goes if you ask for beer or wine they bring you something random before you can ask for a list. Nevertheless it’s always satisfying as they are mind readers. Meals are generally followed by coffee. Depending on the time of day the coffee is seemingly the perfect amount of caffeine. Big jolt in the A.M., decaf at night. Sweettooths May always be satisfying with pastries I’ve never heard of.
I would consider Paris to be a walkable city, although be prepared to clock several miles a day. The Arc De Triomphe marks the western end of the city and the Champs-Elysees runs from here to Jardin Tuileries, to the Louvre and along the Seine to Notre Dame glimpsing the Eiffel Tower along the way. I’ve done this route and crisscrossed the city to other spots many times. Eventually it was time to master the Metro.
Its a great feeling perfectly executing getting through the turnstile without getting stuck. To run down the steps and jump onto the train just as the doors close makes you feel like a real Parisian. Until, you realize you are going the total opposite direction on the wrong train and you’ve unknowingly been slapping a passenger behind you with your abnormally large backpack.
After over a week I felt pretty comfortable in this city, almost to the point where I could live here. No chance.
It is most fortuitous that I’ve come to France while they have marched their way to the World Cup final. First experiencing the quarterfinals and then the semifinals I have seen this country come together more and more. Everyone is grinning and slapping backs. I’m starting to say “we” are going to win, feeling French myself. I accidentally wore a red shirt the day of the France Belgium game and although half of the French Flag is red, blue was the color of France that day and red was Belgium’s. It didn’t matter though when we won.
Experiencing this global phenomenon first person is even more enjoyed because I am amongst friends from home in this far city. It’s been great getting to hang and I’m psyched for whatever this French 4th of July will be like in Nice this weekend. Oh boy, here we go.