As that famous French food critic Anton Ego would say: I don't LIKE Paris, I LOVE it! And, just like my daughter who, after not seeing me for a while, wants to do everything she likes doing with me in the space of an hour, I drink in Paris, go to all the places I love, eat all the things I love and walk everywhere I love in the one day I am here.
This morning I leave, so I decide to wake up with Paris. I leave the Hotel Clement early. It is a three star, in the heart of St. Germain, which roughly means you can stand up in the room and it has a toilet and running water. The people are lovely -- so much for the myths of the nasty Parisians. In fact wherever I go the people are lovely.
I am up before people are around -- it is just me and the delivery vehicles. The vendors in the market off Rue du Buci have not yet unpacked their fruit. I head to Corton for my fill of tarte fin au abricots, a delicious, thin round tart I have been craving since I first tasted it 40 years ago. Then, it is on to the Seine, to the views of Paris that stunned me when I first set eyes on them. This is an amazingly beautiful city.
The French really look after their capital. It is scrubbed, rubbed and washed every day. I share the sidewalk with one of those machines that collect the dirt from the night before and wish that we in Toronto would care for our city as much as Parisians care for theirs. My early morning trips to the office are through the very smelly streets of Chinatown, where insipid brown water runs down the street and rotten fruit is everywhere.
I walk up Rue de Seine past the galleries of fine art and furniture that is fine art. It strikes me how much beauty one encounters here, just on a short morning walk. I head to La Palette for a coffee. I am alone -- it has barely opened. Later it will be filled with people, talking intensely, puffing away, and philosophizing.
Yesterday, I decided to escape to the hamam at Hotel Costes and afterwards jostled with hundreds of fashionistas for a lunch in the courtyard, another one of my favourite treats. My meal was a work of art, something akin to Japanese calligraphy made live -- four pieces of thick cut salmon with a wisp of green onion laid diagonally across them. Oh, and of course, a side of green beans. It was a meal fit for a monk. But what struck me as I ate was the enthusiasm of the other diners. The place bubbled. The intensity was overwhelming and I was caught up in it all.