Le Retour

Le Retour
UA 926 from San Francisco descends north of Paris, revealing little villages and towns dotting the landscape with lush green fields around them as far as the eye can see.  Terracotta-tiled roofs criss-cross my view.  Arriving at Terminal 1, we traverse the bouncy little walkway (you know the one!) to the baggage claim area.  We get into the taxi at the front of the queue and dart towards our home away from home.  Familiar landmarks go by that trigger little memories:  Ikea, the Stade de France, HLM housing in the banlieues.  There is a slowdown on the highway due to “rubbernecking,” making us realize that driving habits are pretty universal.  Our driver mentions that you now need to faire gaffe as you exit the péripherique because there are cameras that capture your photo if you are speeding.  No big manifs today and we zip up rue des Archives, past the BHV and into Le Marais towards our pied-à-terre.  It doesn’t look like much has changed.  A few new stores, some new awnings, a couple of ravalements in progress, children leaving school for the day, and streets filled with well-dressed Parisians.    Alex, the local caviste on the ground floor of our building, waves and suggests that we stop over to taste some new wines.  Bien sûr!  We pop into the apartment, have a quick glance around, unpack, and then sit down and relax a little.  I decide to stop and see Alex while Ineke takes a little nap.  He has three bottles of wine clothed in little wine “socks” for me to taste so I can choose one for our clients.  Hmmm, ten-hour flight, nine-hour time difference, pourquoi pas!  After a few glasses I realize that I can’t figure out anything so Alex suggests that I take all the bottles back to the apartment to taste in the next couple of days to make our choice.  Back to the apartment, I line up the wines for Ineke to try before we meet with some friends later.  She’s a little groggy but makes a first try at the challenge.   At Le Grizzli on rue Saint-Martin, we both have a Kir and our friends arrive and greet us warmly with a wave of kisses.  We catch up on the news of the last six months and suddenly realize it is already 10:30 p.m. even though it’s still daylight.  Ineke and I are both hit by a coup de bar and decide to head home.  But first some food.  Crêpes-Suzette is still open and we each have a galette that hits the spot, and then crawl into our nice comfy bed for a good night’s sleep.   Sunday awakens with a bright sun peaking around the edges of the curtains.  It is 10:00 a.m. and I’ve slept well, though Ineke was up at 5:00 a.m.  I was thinking about doing some little repairs around the apartment but realized the BHV is closed on Sundays – so civilized!  We decide to look for brunch (it is 11:00 a.m. by now) and stop at Le Loir dans la Théière (the dormouse in the teapot) on rue des Rosiers.  After a wonderful little brunch in this resto decorated in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland, we decide to take our first walking tour, this one through the Académie Française.    Guided walking tours en français are one of our favorite things, as they impart a level of detail that one doesn’t get in any guidebooks.  The docents usually make a point of enunciating clearly, so the French is not as much of a problem as you might imagine if your French is not perfect.  So, from the noise along the quai to the utter silence inside the magnificent historic building of the Académie Française, we learn about the inner workings of the Académie Française and its links to the academies of other disciplines.  In their current revision of the French dictionary, they are up to the letter “s”.  Under consideration was whether they should retain the word “startup”, which had become part of the popular French vernacular during the internet boom of the late nineties but had already lost its luster in France.  Sunday finishes with a dinner arranged by friends at a new Italian restaurant called “Sopranos” in the Place St-Catherine.   Monday is a workday for us as we return every six months to do little repairs and spring-cleaning in our apartment.  However, one must start the day out right and so we have a petit-dejeuner around the corner from our apartment at the temporary Café Nutella, which was opened to celebrate Nutella’s 40th anniversary.  While munching on half a dozen breakfast items made with Nutella, we make our “to do” list for the week and glance at the Pariscope and GoGo Paris guides.   After breakfast, we make my favorite trip to the sous-sol of the BHV, where you can find anything and everything in terms of hardware.  I have memorized the locations of most of the items that we typically buy each trip, but as always, there are a few new adventures as I wander up and down the aisles.  Walking back to the apartment, I snap some photos along the way, and then we do our first wave of bricolage to bring the apartment back to tip-top shape.  We also try to figure out which wine to buy and do a second…
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