Tuesday, January 23, 2007
First Day in France
The morning finds me on the steps of Sacre Coeur, the carousel whistling an infectuous tune, a camera in one fist and a baguette avec la confiture du marmalade au chocolat in the other.
Our plane arrived only a little late yesterday, and we made it to our hotel in Montmartre without incident (apart from some minor difficulty understanding how to aquire Metro tickets). My dormant middle-school French is serving me rather better than I expected, and we wandered around the arrondissement, observing the bizarre proximity of the pricey upper-class neighborhoods to the notorious sex district surrounding the Moulin Rouge. Looking for dinner in mid-afternoon on a Monday proved difficult (the French eat at eight or nine, and many restaurants close on Mondays), but we finally stumbled across a welcoming (if empty) Italian establishment. We ate here out of starvation, despite every guidebook's warning that Italian food in Paris is not to be trusted. We were not disappointed - though, if anything, J's trois fromage pizza tasted, well, French, and was dotted with lumps of tangy gorgonzola and brie rinds. My escargots were a little earthy, but the gorgonzola ravioli was better than many an East Village nook. My favorite part was the complimentary kir, a popular French aperitif made with champagne (or sometimes white wine) and cassis syrup or liquor.
We slept a shocking fourteen hours as a result of our jet lag, and woke barely in time to grab an underwhelming breakfast in the hotel dining room. Our plans for today consist mostly of finding our hostel (where we'll be for the next three nights) and a good cafe. After that - well, I'll let you know.
I hope this suffices as an intermediary return to blogging. If anyone has suggestions and/or recommendations for Paris, Avignon/Provence more generally, the coastline west of Marseille, Carcassonne and the Languedoc region, or Barcelona (this gets us to Febrary 10th) - please let me know.
Until next time,
Your Intrepid Explorer