I left a memory card behind at one of our places. That’s bad. Left it at our houseboat, Soleil. That’s good. I have been in contact with the new guest there and she has agreed to hand me the memory card – which the owner of the boat set aside for me – this morning at 10. I wake up early and instead of hanging around I head out the door at barely 7:30. I get lost going to the bathroom in my own home so this venturing out alone is a big thing. I usually get to where I am going… eventually. But today everything runs smoothly. I expected to see lots of commuters but, to my surprise, they are not out yet. I exit at the Trocadéro station instead of the Passy station (which is closer to the péniche) or Bir-Hakeim (which is closer to the Tower itself) so that I can enjoy the Trocadero Gardens and the walk, with the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine on the horizon, on my way to the dock. The surroundings of the French icon are almost deserted. This pigeon and I are the only ones perched on the ledge. Only difference is that he can’t be bothered with the tons of steel and looks the other way while I can’t get my eyes off it.
I descend the stairs and look back. I am feeling like I own the place. As I turn the corner a reminder that there are others who this belongs to more than me. A man and his dog in what seems a daily routine. A statue that is impassive as to my disappointment. Another that seems as entranced with the tower as me. And another reminder that the area belongs to those whose daily routine includes it.
I descend the stairs that will take me to Port Debilly, where the little houseboat I called home is. It’s still early but I will check if perhaps they have woken up and can be found enjoying a cup of coffee on the deck. The weeping willow marks the spot. The roses in the garden under it have bloomed. I call out to Fifi (aka: Yaya) but she is nowhere to be found, as neither are the new inhabitants of Soleil. I head in the opposite direction past the bridge. I follow the jogger at a much more relaxed pace. My step is slow but my heart beats fast. This city energizes me. No roses to smell on this side but lots to focus my eyesight on. A statue peeking from between the branches of a tree. And the Statue of Liberty raising her torch from the prow of a boat, oblivious that she is only a mini-me version of the one in the New York harbor and that she is being overpowered by the Eiffel Tower. I have to make some time till our rendezvous and it occurs to me that the new guests, which have moved in only yesterday afternoon, would appreciate some good croissants to start their day. I know of an excellent pattiserie close to the boat so I head to my familiar underpass to reach it. In it there is a homeless man that has parked his mobile home of shopping cart and bags for the night here. I almost feel like I am barging into his home but still try to take a photo unnoticed. Unfortunately the result is a blurry mess.
passing the Passy station that doesn’t hold the best of memories. Click here to read about it. As I prepare to cross the street I spot this couple with their dog that seems so in sync both in color-matching clothing as in direction of their gaze. Think I’ll have my morning coffee there before going to the patisserie. I cross the street. Spot a familiar face on that billboard. I sit and enjoy seeing the city wake up around me. I go buy the croissants and return towards Passy to descend the rose flanked stairway
I cross Kennedy Avenue. And go into the underpass again. The homeless guy has relocated. It is now being used by business people in their bikes. Half of the recently married couple that is staying at the boat is saying good-bye to her husband as I approach. They are a lovely Irish couple on their honeymoon. I give them some pointers on the area, hand them their croissants, they hand me my memory card and I head back hoping that the world hasn’t woken up, that I can return home with a conviction that Paris and I had a thing going on if only for a little while. But that was not to be for as I climb the stairs I see the tourist are out in droves. This statue just seems to shrug and say “What did you expect? They are always here!” I go back into the metro and amuse myself taking photos of the different stations. In 1999 the programme Renouveau du Métro was implemented, renovating designs, styles and decoration of the different metro stations. Still a work in progress. Each station has its own “identity”. The benches are all in one color at each station to help recognize them at a glance. République is yellow. Belleville (as is Trocadero -please see above) is green. My station Pyrénées, at least until today, is orange. And, of course there is the confused one… The metro’s tiles are beautiful in all of the stations. The interminable stairs that take you to many floors above are a constant in all. Some with escalators and some without. I exit and reach the yellow door of the building in just a few steps. I still get a thrill of using my key or code to a place that I feel as ours in a city that becomes, at least temporarily, one we call home.
I take the steps instead of the elevator. I lie face up for a brief moment admiring the moulding in this old building. Open the closet to start packing. These old buildings rarely have closets and most buy an antique one to match the architecture. Sometimes because it is cheaper than buying an Ikea one (which is huge in Europe). I close the pink Ikea curtains that coupled with the old mirror, and maybe my not so good eyesight, gives my skin color a soft hue which is quite glorious. Will miss that combination. 🙂 One last look at the entryway/kitchen. And we are off to train station to take the TGV to Rennes where our next adventure will begin or, better said, where our adventure continues.
We are not leaving from Gare du Nord which is massive, chaotic at all times, and where someone tried to scam us. I am grateful for that. We are leaving from Gare Montparnasse which isn’t as big but to my dismay, upon arrival, turns out to be as chaotic as Gare du Nord. What I also notice is that at these major hubs the signage is not the greatest so we roam around a bit with our luggage in tow before we find where to buy the tickets. We both have the same method of travel which usually is no method at all (though at times we do plan ahead) and it serves us well in the most part except when buying tickets on the train. The Eurostar was bought months in advance and was quite reasonably priced. The ticket to Rennes was bought on the day and we end up paying almost double if we had bought it ahead of time. Our train leaves in 35 minutes so we wait.
As the train lulls Dean to sleep the clouds have my gaze and my imagination starts weaving stories of what may lie ahead.