Loving Paris, with Friends

November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Almost all my postings have been about being in Paris alone. But now I have my first visitors, two at the same time, and it is a bit of a different experience. One has never been to Paris before. Walking around with him reminds me of the intense pleasure and even awe that can be inspired by seeing this city for the first time. As much as I love Paris and appreciate being here so much, I still feel as though some of his reactions have helped brush some of the dust of habituation from my eyes. I certainly saw the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand, where I go every week, with new eyes after the three of us went yesterday to get a few hours of work in. It is an impressive feat of modernization, a stunning example of government investment in culture, books, learning, and though this last point is highly arguable, public service.

The Library has been criticized by many since it was built, and like any other institution is certainly has its faults. But the collections are fantastic and after the first visit, it is surprisingly user-friendly and comfortable. My only real wish is that the courtyard garden be open at the research level so that those of us who spend 4, 6, 8, 10 hours in the Library at a time, can breathe some fresh air.

Visitors also means eating out, which we have done twice and which I basically never do on my own. We started at the rightly famous L’As du Falafel in the Marais (34 Rue des Rosiers, Paris, 75004) where the falafel has been fresh, filling, and super tasty if a bit overpriced, for years and years. Then we went the French bistrot route and had lunch at Chez Lili & Marcel right near the Library (1 Quai Austerlitz, Paris, 75013).  Huge portions and excellent French food. Though none of us had any of the pork specialties they sounded amazing, the tartare seemed to be a popular dish, as were the huge burgers, served on wooden cutting boards with piles of fries.

With food too, it was a treat to witness someone tear into a just-baked French baguette, slather it with fresh butter and homemade jam, and take his first bite. Sometimes the simplest foods are the most delicious and the most unbelievable. And oh how the French know how to bake, cook, eat, from the simplest 3 ingredient bread to the most complex scientific pastry creation.

At the same time, having less personal time and space is something I am having to adjust to though it is probably good for me to share my long walks, study spots, favorite markets, bookstores, jogging paths, and views, with someone other than myself!


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