I’m on vacation (je suis en vacances). For a week. And how I love the idea of paid vacation. Knowing that I can sit at home – or travel or do whatever I like – and still get paid. However, for the entire week I’ve had the most frightful cold, cough, sore throat, and congestion. It started last Monday and today, seven days later, the last coughs and sniffles are still burbling forth. Because of this, I’ve had to push forward my trip to Lille.
On Wednesday I’m off to the North. To Lille to spend the Christmas holidays with my four god-children and then further north to Belgium across the border. To the medieval town of Ghent.
Today, they’ve turned the heat off in my apartment building. The temperature is 6°C (42°F) outside. A cold, gray, winter’s day. They’re fixing the heating system and we’ve been told that we’ll be without heat until 6 pm. A perfect day, then, to cross town to the 6th arrondissement to the très chic Bon Marché department store. I planned to do three things there. Take photos of their Christmas windows. Buy a miniature whisk for making hot cocoa. And buy some artisanal (homemade) marshmallows for the kids to plop into their hot cocoa. (I make it from scratch for them and for me, it’s ridiculously easy: fresh whole milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and a smidgen of cornstarch to thicken it. You need a whisk, a small one.)
The Bon Marché has a Food Hall to die for. If and when you visit Paris, you must visit the Bon Marché, the main store and the Food Hall. You won’t be disappointed.
So grabbing my camera and bottle of cough syrup, I headed outside to take the metro to Sèvres-Babylone metro station. Arriving at my metro station though, the loudspeaker announcement was saying “No trains.” Why? Who knows. Take a bus. I climb back up to the street and stand at the bus stop with twenty other people. One bus arrives, already full, and no-one can get on.
In the end, I never made it out of my neighborhood. It was too cold and gray to hang around waiting. No other bus came. So I walked to my local organic supermarket to buy that great bread that I like, some goat’s cheese and a few other things and came home. Tomorrow I will make another attempt to go to Bon Marché. I also want to see the Christmas decorations in the 6th arrondissement, do some gift shopping, and afterwards stop off at La Maison du Chocolat for a hot chocolate. The weather is currently awful here. Gray, damp and cold.
Oh, there’s also that fabulous Cy Twombly and Magritte art exhibition to see at the Beaubourg (Pompidou Center). There’s also a photo exhibit I want to see at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in the Marais (links below).
While waiting for the heat to come back on, I took a few snaps of my flat (there’s a notice in the elevator informing us that we need to “purge our radiators.” I haven’t a clue how to do that. I’ll have to ask my neighbor.)
I don’t know where this Christmas custom of oranges studded with cloves comes from. But I’ve been doing it since childhood. Is it English? Scandinavian? Middle Eastern?