Living in Provence: visiting Paris

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Living in Provence: visiting Paris
I left my Provençal idyll (sometimes known as the boonies) to go up to The Big City (generally referred to as Paris) for a few days last week. The impetus for the trip was the Turner, Whistler, Monet exhibit at the Grand Palais, but I also wanted to see friends, do some shopping, visit a few museums and reconnect with a city I love.   Friends in the nearby perched village of Venterol (population 200) were taking Emily, my Westie, to stay with them; the four cats would stay in the house, tended and ministered to by my next door neighbor Françoise-Marie, with additional daily nurturing visits from Nick and Marco O de la V. Robbie Jackson has basically claimed my two-room cave for his own little pad. Since he is not my cat, he isn’t allowed inside the house.   Tuesday morning I left Nyons at 7:30 AM, allowing enough time to park the car and catch the 9:13 train from Avignon Gare TGV. I had purchased my PREM tickets (an enormous saving) from the SNCF-Voyages web site a month before. It was cold, raining and foggy in the Vaucluse and I narrowly avoided hitting two perdrix crossing the road near Sablet. When the train pulled into the Gare de Lyon a little before noon, the sun was brightly shining; the weather felt almost like spring.   I quickly took the Métro to the apartment in the 15th where I was staying, dropped my bag and headed for the Marais. I had a list of things I had to do, wanted to do, might do, with time for the understood built-in random discoveries. I am perhaps the ultimate flâneuse; there is nothing I like better, and Paris is the world-capital, the Mother of flânerie. Only this time I was to be there two nights and barely two full days.   Now that I live définitivement in France, Paris is still the mythical city, for sure, but it is also a place to do errands, fill up on supplies I can’t get in Provence. There is a sense with me now of stability and permanence about Paris; it is always there, a three-hour train ride away; rather than a carefully planned, costly escape across an ocean, a limited time-span into which everything magical must be crammed because it could be who-knows-how-long before one returns. Part of what I do now in Paris is banal household errands, while at the same time, nothing has been lost, only added, shifted, slightly rearranged. Paris is Paris.   By the time I left Thursday afternoon to catch the 4:20 TGV back to Avignon, I was ready to return to Nyons. No, I hadn’t done all I’d wanted in those couple of days, but I’d done enough. The boonies beckoned. Home is home. Among many other achievements, Patricia Fieldsteel has had an award-winning column in THE VILLAGER newspaper since 1997 and has also published in THE NEW YORK TIMES. She is an animal-lover par excellance and is divinely happy in Provence, though from time to time she misses the opera, ethnic food and Law & Order reruns. This is her story. If you’d like a little more Provence in your day, Bonjour Paris recommends Patricia Wells’ stunning The Provence Cookbook. No matter where you live, or how gloomy it may be outside, Patricia Wells will brighten your kitchen with the sunny flavors of France’s bountiful south with The Provence Cookbook. A French-food expert and longtime Provence resident, Patricia offers readers an intimate guide to the culinary treasures of this sun-drenched landscape and dishes that will transport you and your guests with every flavorful bite. The Provence Cookbook’s 175 enticing recipes reflect Patricia’s long and close ties with the farmers and purveyors who provide her and her neighbors in Provence with a kaleidoscope of high-quality foods. Their year-round bounty is the inspiration for these exciting, healthful Mediterranean-French dishes,which Patricia shares with home cooks everywhere. Over the past twenty years, it is Patricia who has often been the student, learning Provencal ways and regional recipes directly from the locals. With The Provence Cookbook, her readers benefit from this rich inheritance, as she passes along such recipes as My Vegetable Man’s Asparagus Flan, or Maussane Potter’s Spaghetti.
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