After our trip to Paris and Provence was canceled in 2019 and 2020, it was hard to believe it would actually ever happen, but here we are! Despite an inconvenient and lengthy Boston-LaGuardia-JFK connection, we arrived safely in Paris at dawn on Monday and began a long but straightforward trek to Hôtel La Nouvelle République in the 11th arrondissement. It was too early for our room to be ready so we had tea and pain au chocolat in its small restaurant, left our belongings, and returned to the Metro.
The first thing I wanted to do in Paris was a boat ride on the Seine. I plotted our route and when we emerged from the Metro, the first thing we saw was the Eiffel Tower which made us feel we had really arrived. The second thing we saw was a memorial tribute with flowers which did not seem significant until we saw the “Place Diana” signage. It was named in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and is slightly north of the Pont de l'Alma Tunnel, where she was killed along with two others in the infamous car crash on August 31, 1997. The anniversary was just last week so the flowers seemed relatively fresh. I was in Hereford the day she died so experienced a little bit of the country’s mourning.
I am sorry to say my French is not as good as I thought it was and no one understands me except when I said, "Je suis perdue!" and a friendly bartender said he was lost too! Fortunately, the staff of Bateaux-Mouches repeated everything in French, English, Spanish, and German, pointing out landmarks ranging from the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame, and the Academy des Beaux Arts. It was obvious even from a distance that Notre Dame is far from restored, which is very sad.
It was beautiful on the sparkling water although much too hot for me, and every time we went under a bridge I rejoiced in the shade. Occasionally, people waved to us from the riverbank or apartments along the route. From a distance, we saw the statue of Henri Quatre on the Pont Neuf, which Betsy Ray visits in Betsy and the Great World. You know what they say - all roads lead to Betsy-Tacy.
Afterward, we walked north, which was clearly the wrong direction, but eventually found Café Victory which provided ice cream to my mother and Coke for me before we headed back to the hotel to check in and have a short nap. Later, we had a delicious dinner at Café Charbon right around the corner from the hotel. The hotel cat seems to be sleeping in a different chair every time I look.
The hotel cat
I reread Madam, Will You Talk for about the 50th time on the plane, in preparation for Provence. If you haven't read it, you should.