Falling Rice in Paris

Arrived in Paris, Gare de Lyon, by idTGV train yesterday.  We’re in a great apartment—fairly small like a New York apartment. But it’s perfect for our stay: homey and warm with great hardwood floors and a balcony overlooking the Pantheon. Sylvie, who owns the place, was a friendly woman who seemed to prefer to think of us as her guests rather than her tenants. Actually, everyone in Paris has been friendly—from our taxi driver to Sylvie to the grocery store clerk who helped Fred buy a peach to the girl who tried to explain to us how to use the key to our apartment building (before we realized it was not actually our apartment building). I like the French.

            One more note on the Riviera. On Friday, we took the 10-minute train ride to Nice just to see a more prototypical view of the Cote d’Azure. Huge city. Incredibly urban, lovely open water, and a long beach. It was still, as Fred said, like standing in a quarry, picking your way through the pebbles and rocks on tender feet. (And my feet are pretty tough—I’m not usually a huge fan of shoes.) As much as we loved Villefranche and were sorry to leave it, I’m reminded that there are no better beaches in the world than Florida and Alabama. I’ve been all over the east and west coast of the U.S., seashores in Ireland and Thailand, Roatan and Costa Rica and Spain and France, and so far no where is any more beautiful than the Gulf Coast. The sand and water and sky—we haven’t always done a great job of developing the land, but the natural beauty itself is unparalleled. In my opinion. Which may be a little biased.

Back to Paris. We walked down the Boulevard St. Germain, all the way down to the Seine, and got drawn like magnets into the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. It’s a fantastic place in the middle of a crammed touristy area. Time stops—the books just suck you in. I finished Tender Is the Night yesterday (set along the Riviera), so I picked up A  Tale of Two Cities, a book I loved even in ninth grade.

 On the spur of the moment we bought tickets to a 10 p.m. showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I’d never seen. Not even on TV. This was the whole shebang—an entire cast in front of the screen acting out each part, the audience knowing all the lines, water thrown when it rains and rice thrown during the wedding scene. We’re still picking rice out of our hair. It was chaotic and crazy and hilarious at times, although sometime after midnight we were fairly ready to head home. Plus we were damp and coated in the aforementioned layer of rice. It was worth doing, although we missed most of the jokes because they were in French. (The movie was shown with French subtitles, but there was so much patter and slapstick going on from our French cast that you could rarely hear the English version.)

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