A New Yorker In Paris
One difference between Paris and New York is that Parisians have leisure built into their day. This is one reason you’d want to hire New Yorkers to scale a mountain, but Parisians to enjoy the view.
Right now I’m brunching at Café Les Artistes where between noon and 2:00 pm here (as well as at every other bistro, bar, restaurant and café in town), everyone congregates to eat, drink wine and shmooze.
Though we’ve yet to meet anyone in Paris, Parisians have met our smiles and stunted speech with smiles of their own and helpful words as well. They seem willing to be friendly with people they don’t know. No haughty or nasty Frenchmen? I am almost disappointed.
Meantime, my body is dragging me around, all short of breath due to the Bronchitis I contracted in Florence.
Are thin (perhaps there’s a correlation?)
Are very well put together, like Manhattanites or even more so.
Are racially integrated (at least with Blacks, or so it seems).
Seem unreasonably happy…all that wine and caffeine? Or all that fraternité?
Are less tethered to electronic devices than we are. Hmmm…
Are seated together in restaurants (i.e., parties are seated next to each other). This is in stark contrast to NYC, where we always want to be as far away from each other as humanly possible.
Love to sit outside the café, even on windy, 50-degree nights. At first I think – how hardy! Then I notice many cafés provide a canopy with heat lamps.
Have such well-behaved children! I think I’m in a Mary Poppins set!
Dine together with the kids on weeknights.
Love the good life: Wine and good food, and food for thought, and chocolate…
…and most of all they take the time these things require.
Include their share of beggars and homeless, but even they seem to have a kind of dignity.
And Paris seems to be as deep as it is wide. We pass a church today that is surrounded by an archeological excavation from Roman times!
That night, we go to the movies to see Love Springs (“version originale”) with Meryl and Tommy Lee, and the thing that strikes me is how before the feature, the theater runs trailers and commercials, just like in New York. Except that they’re shown with the volume turned halfway down.
Now that’s civilized.
Speaking of civil, I finally decide to do something about my Bronchitis. For this, we have the advantage of being able to call my 10th grade English teacher Hank Resnik, who with his wife Lu (see Telegram From The Future From Hank and Lu) spends several months a year here. (Oh the perks of a long life and the tender tentacles of cultivated friendships! There’s an upside to my inability, or unwillingness, to let go, you know.) Hank speaks to their local physician, a Doctor Neveh, who forthwith agrees to come into the office to see me on her day off. She examines me and prescribes the meds I would have had in the states: An antibiotic and a corticosteroid spray.
She then hands me her bill…for 35 Euros (about $45).
We then take the prescriptions to the pharmacy. Shelley freaks when the woman hands us that bill: 5188! Until we realize it’s for 51.88 Euros, or about $67. So I wind up paying about a third of what a doctor’s visit and these drugs would have cost me in the country I’m actually a citizen of.
To boot, I receive a free chiropractic adjustment, compliments of the Paris Metro, an almost frightfully efficient system. Squeezing into the subway car, I expect the force of an MTA car door, but instead the doors close on me like some kind of horizontal guillotine.
The Metro is not without its charms, however. Here, an ad on a station wall…
For me, Paris turned out to be anti-climactic. Three days in Venice gave me a good taste of that city. Four days in Florence was enough to inhale its allure and feel it beckon me back for more. But five days in Paris was enough to only begin to scan its sites, discern its charms and have it seep into my senses. It’s a vast banquet, really, and by the time I sat down and felt my mouth water, it’s about time to go. I liked it, but loved Florence. Paris may be too big for me to fall in love with anyway, after living in New York. I mean, I’ve been here and I’ve done big.
Each is huge, each a city of night. And each is best seen by foot.
Indeed, Paris and New York do a kind of dance together…
I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the pond.
Now I’m back to my life, and it’s fall and getting faller. Wake me when it’s May.
And maybe Shelley and I will return to Italy and France one spring, if only to defy having only been there in the autumn of our lives.