Paris Day Three and Four

Monday  February 17

Attacked by delayed jet lag.  After writing a bit, I had to go to sleep.  Several hours later, I roused myself.  My plan was to sit in a cafe on île Saint Louis and read Paris Creole, but I couldn’t move.  Finally, I  decided on a chore for which my body might be capable- finding the illusive drinking glasses.

I asked one of the administrators to direct me to the housewares shop he had introduced me to last year.  An inexpensive shop.  Instead he sent me to one around the corner.  Tres cher, very expensive.  Since I had very little energy, I forked over 6 euros for 2 small glasses.  Even the clerk agreed they were “chers.”

Back in my room, I was tempted to return to bed, but I knew several  hours later, I’d be hungry and bored.  I went to the Médiathèque, the library of the Irish Cultural Center, to do a bit of research.  The “book” will include a discussion of my Irish grandmother’s immigration experience.  She lived in the center of Ireland from 1893 to 1906.  Uncovering primary sources about life in rural Ireland has proven difficult.  I found three books all written by men but at least they cover the right period.

Then, I took myself off to the Champo cinema where I’ve been going since I was 21.


Tonight was Jean Renoir’s The Southerner with Randolph Scott.  I needed an English speaking film.  I didn’t have the stamina to try understanding French for two hours.  In 1946, the film won the Oscar for best director and was shown at the Venice Biennale.  Why I asked myself.  The characters are stereotypes of poor farmers, almost caricatures, the acting is often wooden or over the top especially Beulah Bondi who plays the grandmother, and the cinematography is forgetful.  Some mise-en-scenes seemed directly copied from the film Grapes of Wrath.  And by God when I left the theatre, it was raining again.  This time, no umbrella.


Like a bad penny, I returned to La Méthode for dinner.  I ordered dessert  realizing too late, it was unnecessary.  With my coffee came a small piece of cake, comme d’habitude.  In France, a small sweet often accompanies an order of coffee.  I returned home to some reading and the jet lag reversed on me.  I was up most of the night.  Not one bit tired until the next morning.

Tuesday  February 18

I continued to write about not writing as I‘ve been doing, then, spent the afternoon with yet another nap.  And like yesterday, I forced myself to get out.  This time to Luxembourg 3 off Boulevard Saint Michel for Tu Mourras a 20 Ans, You Will Be Dead When You Are 20.  Using my limited French, I bought a ticket and asked in which “salle” (room) the film was being shown.  Still no one attempts English with me.  Is it because there are so few tourists?


The film is Sudanese, so it was subtitled in French.  I understood most of what I read except when the sous-titres passed by too quickly.  The film follows a young man coming of age in a small Sudanese village while living alone with his mother.  It reminded me of Satyajit Ray’s 1956 film, Aparajito, in its pace, cinematography, it’s focus on a mother, even the emphasis on doors, physically and metaphorically.  Quite beautiful and moving.

Where to have diner.  Should I continue my “residence” at La Méthode?   I could walk over to my old neighborhood, Odeon, and eat at the highly rated Le Comptoir.  Yet, for all it’s casualness, it seems full of itself.  Aux Délices du Liban, a Lebanese restaurant, around the corner from the Irish Cultural Center, seemed a good choice.  It was closed, so I walked down Rue Mouffetard to La Crete, a Greek restaurant, and enjoyed a lamb and pasta dish redolent with cinnamon.  I considered dessert.  The waiter and I discussed the absence of loukimades, so I settled on a coffee.

What can distract me tomorrow or is it all grist for the mill?

Paris Day 29 and 30

Sunday April 29, Monday April 30

A rainy day and the Poet’s last morning, our breakfast club still intact.  Will the collegial atmosphere continue or will it wither away?

Along the Seine

For several days, I had noticed advertisements in the neighborhood for a flea market on Rue Mouffetard beginning in the early hours of the morning maybe even by 5 a.m.   After breakfast and final good-byes, I decided to explore.  I must have gotten the dates mixed up as I found only a food market.  A small market but interesting as are all the marches de Paris.  I shyly moved up and down the aisles trying to decide where to stop.

Since all I have is a small refrigerator cubby in the kitchen on my floor, I’m limited to what I can purchase.  As I perused the market, I practiced the French I would need to make my transaction.  Bon Jour Monsieur or Madame.  Je voudrais….  C’est combine? Good morning sir or madame.  I would like…. That’s how much?  I decided on a cheesemonger that looked promising, long lines and cheeses designated as award winning, for instance, a morbier touted as the best in France.  Also, a large wheel of comte seemed to be popular among the customers.  In front of me, a woman ordered a saucisson sec maigre.  Really, a French low fat salami?  Finally, it was my turn.  As usual, all my practiced French went out the window.  I was tongued tied but managed, and thank God, remembered to be polite first and foremost.  I began successfully with “Bon Jour Monsieur.  Je voudrais…” but stumbled requesting the saucisson.  Immediately, Monsieur switched to English and, with great charm, educated me on the finer points of choosing.  “Madame, that saucisson is a bit soft, not the best of textures.  But Madame, first you must taste and then choose.” He continued to entertain me and the other customers with his practiced chit chat and gallantry towards the poor Américaine

I walked away with low fat sauccison and the gold medal morbier.  He was right about the sauccison and the morbier, a gift from the gustatory Gods.


On my way out of the market, a young boy was selling bunches of lilacs. A Paris moment-a bouquet of lilacs in my hand and packages of fromage and saucisson.  C’est parfait.

Monday April 30

Another poet leaves today, and another rainy day.  I could see that I needed to plan my last week carefully or I might slip into a nostalgic funk.

Jardin de Luxembourg

As soon as I got back to my room, cold and wet, from the Alliance Francaise, I researched possible outings in L’Official des Spectacles, a weekly list of events in Paris.  I found two excellent choices, a Marguerite Duras play, Agatha, which explores incestuous feelings between a brother and sister, something Duras experienced first hand at Théâtre de L’Eppe de Bois, tomorrow night, and Miss Nina Simone in Montparnasse, Sunday May 6.

de Marguerite Duras
Mise en scène Bertrand Marcos
Un dialogue entre un frère et une sœur. Ils s’aiment, au-delà de l’amour fraternel qui conviendrait, au-delà des frontières de ce qui est possible, de ce qui est permis. Elle lui a demandé de la retrouver dans leur villa d’enfance afin de lui annoncer son irrémédiable décision de partir, loin de lui.
                                           Miss Nina Simone au Théâtre du Lucernaire

I had planned to have dinner at the Irish College but the grey skies and cold room would make for a dreary meal.  The remaining poet and I went to a Greek restaurant  on Rue Mouffetard.  Warm, cheerful, and comforting Greek food.

La Crète