The evening before we left for Paris I cleaned the flat into a more respectable form: it is something I always do, in my role as Mme. Provincial, before we depart to spend some time at some other place. To broaden our minds, make photos and buy T-shirts. And return to some home-made comfort after that.
We were still tired the next day, but that didn’t matter at first, since we could simply sit and watch the much-soaked fields hurry past the TGV windows, my mind churning idly. Sitting’s underrated. So is a good sleep. And one can never get enough sun.
“Just leave your baggage here and come back in an hour – the rooms are being cleaned right now.” The nice guy at the reception had to repeat the part about cleaning a few times before I remembered what nettoyage actually means. Yes, we learn such words at our local folks’ university, but I forgot. I did manage to apologize for my bad French in a ridiculously correct French sentence, though. 😯
So off we went, through the slum-like, dirty, stinky, smoky, loud streets leading to and from our hotel that looked much better on the internet. “It’s all my fault”, I thought,” my spirits sagging, “I proudly invited him but couldn’t really pay a lot for a hotel room. Last time, the same stingy amount bought us a shabby but clean room on Bd. de Magenta and it was OK. This time, it looks and feels sort of dangerous. But then, people who pray at the mosque next door won’t have time for bad deeds, will they.” Self-directed sarcasm didn’t help my mood, alas.
Diverting my gaze from the tripping waiter who let the obligatory baguette slices fall on the floor and spread in all directions and brought us a new batch much later I had the sound mind to protest straight away at what he served me (as I am going to do from now on whenever brought garlic, btw): “NO. NO, NO, NO.” I said a bit too firmly. “This is not the salad I have ordered.” “But-” “NO, my salad is without meat!”
Off he went, checking the menu, mumbling in French. OK, so maybe I did want to punish him for having simply covered fresh food stains on our table with two paper sheets, one of which had stains of its own, but I had seen the prices and I was NOT willing to pry away those damn bits of cooked ham straight from the supermarket before being allowed to eat my salad. Nope.
When I finally got my Nord Parisienne, it was surprisingly good. That was some good news at last. My hubby found his chicken average, nothing to enthuse about there. Well.
Our room was more than shabby and lacking too many things, but the beds looked clean and newish. “Let’s get out of here”, I suggested, and off we went. To Montmartre. Tired and not really happy about how things turned out.
To put the touristy part into a nutshell: Montmartre‘s OK, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is OK, too, nothing more, nothing less. Funny thing was we expected to see the Eiffel tower from the tallest hill in Paris straight away, but it didn’t happen, because it wasn’t visible from our side. When in Paris, you actually don’t get to see the Eiffel tower all the time, a lesson to remember.
The proof is in the p-… picture:
A Montmartre artist posing for tourists:
After that, we waded through many streets selling cloth to too many hurried women and landed on Place Pigalle, accidentally. Not a bad outcome.
An apple without a snake:
Then we went back to our hotel. I tried so long and so hard to get some sleep that I must have fallen asleep from all the effort. Outside, people were chatting, laughing and fighting, there was water flowing through the hotel walls and I was very tired.