OK, here’s what I like about living in Paris: days are rarely ho-hum. Something is always happening. One is constantly surprised, exasperated, bedazzled, outraged, charmed…..emotions run high here, the atmosphere is heavily charged. There’s a lot of tension in this country on all fronts: politically, emotionally, socially, sexually.
When people ask why have I lived in Paris for so long, I answer unhesitatingly: I’m never bored. It’s the French people themselves. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a complete paradox and, as a result, life is unpredictable. I guess I like that. I might be bored elsewhere.
Example: yesterday, an ordinary Thursday, I took the metro to the 6th arrondissement on the other side of the city after work. At Châtelet metro station, one of the busiest stations on the metro system – and during rush hour – I literally walked into a pop-up string orchestra playing Bartok in the main corridor. It was totally unexpected and sheer delight:After listening for awhile, I took the corridor to Line 4 to catch the train to Odéon. Once on the crowded train, a pickpocketer managed to open the flap of my handbag, but luckily (for me) was thwarted by the zippered main pocket. Beware of pickpocketers on the Paris metro and elsewhere! Got off at Odéon in the 6th arrondissement (near the Latin Quarter) and sauntered up several roads that led to Berkeley second-hand English-language bookshop, located at number 8 rue Casimir-Delavigne. You can buy, sell and swap books here which is what I did (I swapped.) Then I headed over to my favourite department store, the terribly chic Le Bon Marché, at Sèvres-Babylone further west. Le Bon Marché is open until 9 pm on Thursdays. Here’s a few random shots I took along the way:
I’ve reached my final destination. La Grande Epicerie, the magnificent Food Hall of Le Bon Marché. Look at these fresh shrimp (prawns) from Madagascar! Could shrimp be any bigger?? In France they’re called Gambas. And only 69 euros a kilo, folks. I bought some divine herring in cream sauce, olives from Provence, plump raspberries from Spain and some irresistibly-good gingerbread that the French call pain d’épices, made from rye flour, honey, orange marmalade and spices. With coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon, it’s, well, irresistible.
Stepping outside, I walked smack into a demonstration which explains why the riot police were out, however this was a very tame crowd waving flags marked Mariage pour Tous (Marriage for All) which supports the new law François Hollande’s socialist government is pushing through to legalize same-sex marriage. These images are in stark contrast to the opposing right-wing (and very scary) National Front demonstrators who resort to violence and intimidation.
ADDENDUM – In fact, the people protesting against same-sex marriage, I later learned, is not wholly the extreme right-wing National Front but conservative Catholics out in full-force with their families.