Paris, Day 1: Settling In

May 28, 2008

Vive les amis!

Hi, everybody, and welcome to Paris!

It took about 21 hours, from the time we left home to drive to the Toronto airport, to get here. We had to fly to Frankfurt and wait six hours for our connection to Paris. It was because we flew standby that we had to overshoot our destination and double back (and pay for the doubling). So, while it was less expensive, it was also pretty exhausting. It is now just on 10 pm local time, and my travelmates have all been in bed for an hour already.

We took the RER from the Charles de Gaulle airport, and arrived at Chatelet-les-Halles at 5 pm. The view from the train had looked pretty much like Ontario which, when one is as sleep-deprived as we were, is more comforting than disappointing. But as soon as we emerged from the Châtelet-des-Halles station, we were bombarded with la différence.  There was St-Eustache church towering up on on side, with these narrow, busy pedestrian streets stretching straight before us. One of them was the market street, rue Montorgueil.

We walked the several blocks up this street towards our rental apartment, behind a daycare of a dozen or so preschoolers all chanting at the top of their lungs, “A la queue-leu-leu! Choo-choo!” We didn’t look much different from a train ourselves, five of us in single file towing our wheeled carry-ons.

At the corner of our street, a young woman addressed us, and then called to a man and his wife sitting at the streetcorner café. It was the landlord, a very friendly man who spoke only français. With his bilingual helper and our varying amounts of French, he settled us in to this fabulous fifth-floor, two-storey, three-bedroom, two-toilet and two-shower apartment. In the photo above, you can see Seamus meeting the residents. We were thrilled. Cross-eyed with weariness, but thrilled. My mum joked that she wouldn’t bother seeing Paris, she would just hang out in the apartment for the ten days.

After the paperwork was done, we went onto the market street, Montorgueil, and stopped at five different shops to pick up a few basics and tonight’s supper. We feasted — feasted! — on a baguette, some slices of whole-grain bread (called “Viking” bread), a plate of four kinds of wonderfully reeking cheeses, and a salad assembled of lettuce, fresh tarragon, a tomato with real flavour, lovely olives, and a bowlrubbing of garlic, le tout washed down with a bottle of merlot, and as dessert we nibbled on the most delicious grapes I’ve had in ages. There’s espresso and yogurt and bread and butter and 15% cream and four kinds of fruit laid in for tomorrow’s breakfast before we go exploring the marais.

Paris has begun!