Tag Archives: The Latin Quarter

Paris Piece II

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We were going blind living in that small dark hotel in The Latin Quarter. Not really blind, but accustomed to night blindness any hour of the day. It didn’t much matter as every morning we dressed in black and went out. Into the light. Perhaps the only couple in Paris wearing sunglasses. Coming from Seattle, we are accustomed to that.

Back to Paris: if I were transported there in my sleep, I would wake knowing where in the world I was. I was aware of that every minute of every day.

The word for tourist, translated from Greek, is “the lucky invited.” Note to self: remember that, always, when traveling.

Our city treks took us primarily to cathedrals and museums, and it didn’t take long to find our preferences in both. Notre Dame is gothic and dark, and the Musee du Louvre, vast and heavy. Following the arc of the history of art, we were drawn to the light. Impressionism, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Claude Monet.

Monet’s immense water lily canvases had moved from the Jeu de Paume over to L’Orangerie since I last visited Paris. Surrounding an oval room with a circular sofa placed in the center, the series was meditative then and meditative now. Nothing in life has changed before these paintings.

In the city I considered neighborhoods built around squares as the most desirable places in which to live. Looking up at their tall graceful windows, I imagined their views of parks and people and green. Living in a painting, what could be lovelier than that?

Then boating on the Seine, riverfront residences replaced all of that for me. Old cities such as Paris were designed to be approached from the water. Suddenly I wanted to go down the river and see all of Europe this way, traveling in all that light.

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Paris Piece I

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It was not enough to pack all black for Paris. My husband and I checked into a boutique hotel in The Latin Quarter in which everything was designed to be as dark as night. Black carpeted floors, black upholstered walls, window treatment: black-out drapery, of course. And a night sky ceiling for all the time one spends in bed.

This is the reason women should make the reservations.

Every day we go out, we experience difficulty finding the hotel again. It’s not that way with other sites in Paris, we return to the Orangerie and the parks and markets again and again. But The Seven Hotel, I suspect, moves around by day. It makes sense.

The couple beside me at breakfast converse without words. I suspect everyone here is a spy. My husband, a James Bond fan, has to be in heaven. From now on, for the duration of our stay, I will call him James.

While I grope around with night blindness, James has the lighting mastered. Intricate overhead switches, over the bed, turn on the lowest possible level of light in stars in the sky (our ceiling), and with a little more intensity—all low, mind you—the Lucite “floating” furniture. The bed floats as well. Small room/ big bed. Picture yourself in a spacecraft at night, when the sun is on the other side of the earth from your craft.

Mirrors help enormously. Stepping out of the shower and unable to find bath towels, I looked up and spotted them in the mirror. But how I do my make-up daily is anyone’s guess.

James turned fifty-eight here this week. We were quiet about it, of course.

The last time I was in Paris was with my sister right after college. I won’t tell you how many years ago. But this I know in Paris: I am still the same age here, with all of my life before me. Didn’t need make-up then, and maybe I don’t now.

Now how many places on earth can make you feel like that?

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