I'm going to Paris today. I find traveling stressful nowadays — especially traveling alone. I guess I'm too fond of the comforts of home.
Besides, ma raison — my rational mind — keeps having to reassure mon cœur — my emotional mind, my heart — that no, you won't have to go to the airport. You won't have to deal with long lines and crushing crowds to get checked in. You won't have to go through invasive security checks, and having to get half undressed. You won't have to deal with heavy suitcases. You won't be away from home for two weeks.
You won't have to stand or sit around waiting for several hours before they call your flight for boarding. You won't have that nervous-making takeoff to worry about, and you won't be cramped into a tiny airliner seat for seven or eight hours. You won't have turbulence! And you won't have to land, and go through security again, and catch a second flight...
No, it's just a train ride. Walt drives me up to Blois — that takes 30 to 45 minutes by car, depending on traffic and weather. Then I get on a train that whisks me directly into central Paris in 90 minutes' time. In Paris, I find my way down into the metro, carrying a very light piece of luggage, and I go directly to CHM's neighborhood by metro without having to change lines. It takes maybe 20 minutes. Then a short 10-minute walk and I've arrived.
Tomorrow we'll be having lunch in a restaurant with some people whose names you might recognize — Peter Hertzmann and his spouse Jill, who happen to be in Paris this week, and Ellen L. who lives in Paris, and maybe her spouse too. We're going to a couscous place that we've been to several times before — Le Vent de Sable. Here's a link from 2006. And another from 2007.
A couscous that I made recently, with rabbit, vegetables, and "chorizette" sausages
It's raining this morning, but nothing dramatic. It's supposed to be cool and kind of showery today, but the weather is set to turn summery again tomorrow and through the weekend. I'm not sure what else CHM and I might end up doing during my three-day visit. I've thought of going out for some walks around the city myself — maybe back to my old stomping grounds in the Latin Quarter and around Les Halles and the Marais.
I also wouldn't mind inspecting the recently refurbished Place de la République. It's always fun, too, to walk through some of the neighborhoods where Walt and I used to rent vacation apartments back in the 1990s and early 2000s and to see what's changed — or hasn't. We always had a really good time on those vacations. This trip will be the longest time I've spent in Paris in one stretch since 2006.
I won't be seeing a lot of "grape trees" (as the young son of visiting friends called them) in Paris.
I don't have any special shopping to do, and I haven't made reservations in other restaurants — though there is a Japanese sushi place just down the street from CHM's building that I really enjoy — or bought tickets to any concerts or plays. Paris might be fairly quiet, since summer vacation is just starting, but I think the schools are still in session. It'll be nice to get a breath of urban air and atmosphere, and to spend some time with an old friend.