Au revoir

I’m leaving now.  My time in France has come to an end.  The French government has asked me to please go back to the United States and QUIT BOTHERING ALL OF THESE FRENCH PEOPLE ASKING THEM TO TAKE MY PICTURE!  This was my two days in Paris and I just wanted to document my

Me in a Parisian cafe

Me in a Parisian cafe

trip somehow.  This is me in a typical French

Me in front of the Seine

Me in front of the Seine

café, in front of the Seine, in front of the Eiffel Tower, in front of St. Andre des Arts (my favorite hotel in Paris), in front of the Seine with

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower

Notre Dame in the background and in

Me in front of St. Andre des Arts

Me in front of St. Andre des Arts

front of The Arc de Triumph.  I don’t think I bothered that many people.  Well, these are the best pictures… there may have been

Me in front of the Seine and Notre Dame

Me in front of the Seine and Notre Dame

more… 

I was able to stay in St. Andres de Arts my last

Me in front of Arc de Triumph

Me in front of Arc de Triumph

night in Paris- it’s my favorite hotel in Paris!  It’s quaint, charming and to me just feels so Parisian!  Maybe because the first time I was in Paris 15 years ago I had booked that hotel for Carole, Susie, Ellie, Stevie, Lisa and me.  There’s no TV or internet and the room is just a little bigger than the bed, but it has these beautiful white stone walls, high ceilings, huge French windows and original, crooked wooden beams in the walls and ceilings.  I love it!  I opened my room and the sight of it made me smile.  It’s also the cheapest hotel that I’ve been able to find.  I’d probably stay in the Ritz over on the right bank if it was offered but St. Andre des Arts would definitely be my next choice. 

I was a little concerned when I checked in.  The lobby looked just as I remembered with the stone and wood-beamed walls.  And there were the

St. Andre des Arts lobby

St. Andre des Arts lobby

crooked spiral stairs that go up to the rooms (no elevator) all different heights- some lean forward and some lean back.  The whole scene gave me a warm, cozy feeling and one of familiarity.  The lady at the little check-in desk spoke a little broken English.  She gave me my huge cle (key) – it’s heavy and they still do it the old way… when you leave the hotel, even to go to dinner, you give the key to the innkeeper and they hold it till you get back.  I was in room 12- 3rd floor- go upstairs to the door on the landing level, and follow the door outside.  Hmm… I was sort of hoping to sleep inside on my last day in France.  I must not have understood her- she was speaking very, very broken English and it was hard to understand.  I asked her to repeat it.  I clearly heard ‘outside’ the second time around.  “Go outside?”  “Yuh. Aw-seed”.  (French pronunciation of ‘yes, outside’.  Hmmm… Luckily the guy behind me waiting to get his key on his way in heard her and told me he’d show me my room.  This sounds like a set-up… a stranger’s going to show me my room?  And then he offered to carry my suitcase.  I had to go with a gut reaction and it seemed ok.  “D’accord, allons”… (Ok, let’s go).  I followed him up three long flights of circular stairs- I was very happy he was carrying my suitcase- and sure enough out the door and across a skinny walkway that only went to one door- marked #12.  What an odd set-up.  I had never been to this part of the tiny hotel before.  He said au revoir (goodbye), I said merci and he left.  I was actually standing by myself outside on the skinny walkway in front of one door with the rest of the building behind me.  I unlocked my door and there was the tiny room, just as adorable as I could imagine.  What a wonderful little hotel!  I stepped over to the front and opened the tall glass panel windows covered by the lace curtains and provincial-covered drapes and looked down onto the bustling St. Andre des Arts street.  This is just the way I wanted to spend my last night in France.  It felt wonderful!

I walked around and around both days.  I saw things I remembered I liked

The Grand Palais starring Prince

The Grand Palais starring Prince

about Paris, spent time in book stores, clothing shops, costume jewelry stores.  Just walking and taking in all of Paris.  I happened to come upon one of those huge, magnificent, grand buildings surrounded by tons of gendarmerie (police) and crowds of people all around the entrances.  I asked someone what was going on and they responded like I was a nut.  “It’s the Prince concert!”  I had seen an artistic banner with the word ‘Prince’, but thought it was an art exhibition or something.  The banner had the time 17:00-22:00 (5pm-10pm) and it was 4:55pm.  Cool!  Right there on the Champ d’Elysees- Prince- in one of those ornate century old buildings with the marble-carved statues.  It was a stretch of the imagination to put my arms around that whole concept.   

Paris!

Paris!

Anyway, two days of getting my fill of Paris.  And I did.  It was just fabulous and a big ending to my wonderful six week stay in France.  A long time by myself that felt… good.  I chose the word ‘good’, because that covers a whole gamut of feelings.  I felt courageous when I had no idea what to do, or where to go.  That was the resulting feeling that came after being afraid.    Sometimes it felt awe-inspiring… like when I stepped around the corner of my little street in Antibes and saw the beautiful Mediterranean stretched in front of me with Nice’s twinkling lights in the distance defining the curve of the coastline.  Sometimes I felt a sweetness, like when we walked through Renoir’s home with his paintings on the walls and saw the breath-taking views through the floor to ceiling antique windows of the rolling hills stretching to the sea.  Walking around Antibes gave me a deep sense of connection from a time long ago which is hard for most people to understand but which gave me a solid sense of grounding.  That seemed to be the unexpected vortex of the purpose of my trip.  Sometimes I felt isolated which made me look deep inside of myself.  That’s always an interesting place for anyone.  Often I found myself in wide-eyed wonder… all the new sites, the beautiful places, so many new and different things.  And I felt enormous respect for the French people and their foreign way of just living their life.  I know I’ve poked fun at all of the peculiarities, but I never lost sight that a foreign country is actually supposed to feel foreign.  The humor was oftentimes a reflection of my awkwardness in handling the strangeness of the French customs and lifestyle.  My time in France has been incredibly fulfilling and I’m coming home feeling… in a word to encompass all of my feelings… good. 

Goodbye, France, and a very special au revoir to Antibes.  You will always hold a special place in my heart.  Merci. 

Antibes- the way to my apartment

Antibes- the way to my apartment

Comments
  • mary lou says:

    Hi – I read your blog and enjoyed it. I am considering a trip to Italy for a month – 3 of the weeks I will be solo. I know you enjoyed your trip but wasn’t it kind of lonely? Have you traveled alone since this trip? I am thinking about taking a 6 day cooking class and then I’ll have 5 days to myself. I’m thinking 5 days is enough. Any comments or recommendations? thank you.

    • Mary Lou- Italy for a month! Lucky you!!! I found a trip by myself to a place that was all new to me to be exhilarating! The learning curve in just getting out the door and being present in the day was tremendous and made me depend totally on myself and my strengths. But all in a fun way. Alright, it was a little scary sometimes! But I was coming off a rough time and it was exactly what I needed… to change my focus from the “oh no, poor pitiful me” to be thrown into the hustle and bustle of another world where I had to figure out how to get from here to there, where and how to get currency, how to communicate what I wanted, how to interact and enjoy all the incredible things around me. The food, the sites, the money, the language… it was all brand new! It felt like I was in a wonderful dream where I was surrounded with such interesting, inviting choices and was able to step into and live any of them. A travel partner at that point would’ve been encumbering. But I did want to share all the experiences and idiosyncrasies with someone- which is why I guess I enjoyed writing the blog! :) I know I came home a happier, more peaceful person compared to who I was when I got on the plane to fly over. I had a more steadfast sense-of-self. I stretched myself and grew… including that area around my mid-section :) The food was soooo good! Have fun and drop me a line of your adventures!