Paris Part Deux
Leaving Avignon (screaming) early meant getting 3 nights in hotel in Paris. This was eventually done – at some cost due to Airbnb snafu (you don’t need to know; suffice it to say one of us was panicking and pushing her husby to make questionable decisions). The hotel was directly across from Le Sorbonne. Having checked in we went to a nearby cafe and ordered cocktails. It was 10°C cooler than Avignon; a cooling breeze was cooling us with its gentle cool breeziness; we were surrounded by academics – students and professors. Oh my fuchsia gods! After Avignon this felt like ascending to an ethereal plain; our kind of place; our kind of people. We both simultaneously, once cafe seated and noticing our surroundings, felt blissful. And we were entertained by a very eager old academic codger entertaining a young coquette. She was dressed in a frilly thing and was doing nothing to disabuse the eager old guy that his drooling eagerness might be unwanted. And it would be entirely inappropriate, I suspect, to judge this from an American view of morality. This was France. Francesca overheard her talking, and it was clear she was intelligent, a polyglot, and totally in control of whatever was happening there. In America such an over eager elder would be viewed with disapprobation; a potential abuser of position and authority. In France – and I’m just making this up – the weakness of heterosexual males is often viewed as something to be taken advantage of. Yeah, so, that’s the news from the Geoffrey News Network (GNN), respected the world over.
Email: [Question: Le Sorbonne is incredibly famous and prestigious; and yet I can’t remember any big ideas coming out of l’université – at least in physics – that I’d consider noteworthy. This statement has non-infinitesimal evidence supporting it, but my general impression is the researchers and professors spend their time in cafes, smoking, drinking, and discussing the meaning of meaning. Vrai ?]
Email reply from London academic: [Non non, en fait Le Sorbonne c’est de qualite inferieure – (au-dessous Ecole Normale Superieure et Ecole Polytechnique..) ]
Well well, who knew. Le Sorbonne fairs better in popular fiction that requires a stuffy Parisian academic environment. And it certainly looks austerely prepossessing. We were across the street from what had to have been it’s main building. We wanted to look inside, but without an ID proving we belonged that was impossible. The main building at MIT is larger and even more austerely prepossessing, but its doors are open to all, the end of its infinite hallway a pinpoint due to the mathematics of perspective. What is Le Sorbonne hiding I wonder? Well, having spent years in academic buildings, I don’t really wonder. I know. And it’s not super interesting. And yet, looking at the facade one can easily imagine how difficult – nay, impossible – it would be to rid the building of visitors desirous of camping out in some far corner. We could have saved ourselves 3 nights in a hotel, for example.
Last blissful days
Anyway, those 3 nights opposite Le Sorbonne, and one night at the Airbnb, were a few more days we spent alone in Paris without visitors. We were content. We were alone. We had Le Récamier soufflés.
So, our original choice for an Airbnb was a right bank place we’d stayed at before with a great view of the Eiffel Tower. I contacted the guy running the place. He remembered us, but unfortunately that place was booked for the days needed. But he had another place on the left bank in a neighborhood full of art galleries. It had recently been renovated. Yay and ok. But, he added, he’d prefer that all transactions be done without actually going through the Airbnb app. This was, I assume, so Airbnb does not get a cut, and they maybe avoid taxes. Win-win for them; not so much for us. We had to come up with over 1800€ in cash. This required close to an hour in search of viable banks (4), and 5 different bank cards. But in the end, despite the uncomfortable nature of this transaction, the deal was done, and the place was ours.
After moving in we had lunch at Les Deux Magots, a cafe/restaurant evidently frequented by Luminous Years luminaries back in the 1920s. Unfortunately its cachet was largely undiminished, and many of the clientele were …
Text message to Maryline: [Went to Les Deux Magots today. Still trying to wash off the pretension.]
We were seated next to a curvaceous young woman, sitting alone, dressed in a number of threads that could be counted on the fingers and toes of one hand. She almost immediately left in a huff, our clearly non-celebrity character besmirching the image she was trying to project. No sugar daddy was going to make any moves on her with us sitting next door. Fucking tourists! Merde!
We did more stuff that day, all of it more pleasurable than Les Deux Magots, and even though I don’t exactly remember what we did, The Two Maggots had set the bar very low. Well, we did view a great many art galleries, and discovered two cool sci fi themed shops around the corner from our apartment. That is so so French. In college, over 50 years ago, a friend introduced me to French graphic novels. They were groundbreaking, and the States has yet to catch up … because we’re a colony, too young to have much culture, and so we’re too embarrassed to be seen partaking of an art form we consider frivolous. Oh, and the culture – what there is – is dominated by burly, head shaved Anglo Saxons, for whom even cafe culture is anathema. Fuchsia! Why the hell am I not French, or Italian?