It is certainly cooler in Paris; rain came off and on all day. Finally, big cumulus clouds could be seen through the Belle Epoque buildings down the grand avenues at sunset and I realized that Paris – like Dallas – is in a prairie too.
Earlier, I had lunch at a bistro called THE SELECT in Montparnasse. I had seen a play of the same name in New York last month. It is Elevator Repair Service’s adaptation of THE SUN ALSO RISES by Earnest Hemingway. Mr. Hemingway frequented THE SELECT in Paris – as did F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and other aesthetic luminaries of Paris in the 20’s. (Woody Allen pays homage to this time in his most recent film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.)
I had a tough time imagining those intimate ‘goings-on’ in GRAND Montparnasse. It is the Upper-East-Side of Manhattan times 10. The take in the play (and perhaps the book though I haven’t read it) is that everyone drank like fishes – anesthetizing themselves with booze and sex during the prohibition. The bistro now is charming but pedestrian – you would never imagine that anything special happened here. The food, however, was surprisingly delicious and cheap-ish – entre, plat, and wine for 15 euros. I had Thai the night before, which was half as good and twice as much. (I have a suspicion about Thai food in Paris that I am stewing over and will share later once I have more evidence.)
Afterwards – a bit stunted by the wine – I had my last class in French. We were working on the plus-que parfait (plu-perfect in English, I think?) Happily, most of the time was spent instead recounting stories of French food and wine and terroir and regions.
After saying my goodbyes and sharing a farewell toast of champagne from the momo – or Arab grocery store, I walked home past the art galleries and decorator shops of St. Germain des Pres. Feeling the need to conserve I grabbed dinner at the Monop (a sort of convenience store) and later wandered the streets of the Marais till 1:00 in the morning listening to Jill Scott on my head phones. Bliss. She is coming to Paris on December 6 – I think the French love her. The Parisians love American culture, of course. Our teacher said that the Parisians love the ‘other’ – les autres. I think we all do. I do. The foreign is sexier, smarter and more chic. What happens when we’ve seen the world? Are there sabbaticals on Mars?