My brother came to visit me in Paris. It was a surprise when he told me while I was in Ireland, so it was not an expected part of my sabbatical, but it was a welcome break from the solitary lifestyle I have been living. I must say that I am comfortable being alone, but I looked forward to his visit before he arrived, loved having him with me, and was sad when we said goodbye. Funny, though, how you can get back to the old way of being. Back to just being here in Paris alone. But with fresh eyes after sharing this city with someone whose opinion and perspective I admire.
Like me, my brother had no desire to be touristy, but wanted to fully enjoy the city and the food and wine. Perfect. We went on a bit of a pub crawl the first night around St. Germain des Pres. Our first stop was to an old bar where, down the stairs, you were in a stone lined cave with low ceilings and nooks and crannies where wifi could not find you. Next was a chic wine bar with a fireplace and beautiful people all around us where we ate delicious appetizers and shared a bottle of wine. After that, we went to the classic Cafe de Flore and did incredible people watching.
The next day, we wandered around the Marais area, full of interesting streets and people. We happened upon a flea market in one of the streets, visited our mom’s favorite park — Place des Vosges — and enjoyed the cafes and ambiance. Next, we went to the Musee Marmottan that is on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne and was a kind of hunting lodge many years ago. Now, it is a home that is so full of Monets it would make your head swim. I can now confidently point out a Monet painted in his earlier years, and one painted as he aged and his eyesight dimmed. Or at least going there made me THINK I can!
The last full day we rented our own boat and my brother piloted us through the canals in Paris, built by Napoleon to supply water to the city. A view of Paris that is like no other, sharing a basket of nuts and olives and sausage balls (!) with a bottle of wine on a sunny day with my brother. Tremendous. Then off to the famous Paris flea market. I have never seen so many knife rests before, in shapes of animals and birds, and toy jax… Would anyone know what to DO with a knife rest if you set your dinner table with it?
I ate well, drank a bit (including a visit to the Hemingway bar at the Ritz hotel where we mingled with the Fashion Week crowd), and just had a lovely time sharing my favorite city with my brother. Felt a bit like a host to “my” city so my aim to live like a local is coming true to a certain extent.
After he left, I was back to designing my days on my own. More wandering through new areas, had lunch at a former feminist bookstore, bought a book (I am missing physical books to read on this trip – a Kindle saves luggage, but there is something about a physical book…) at the famous Shakespeare and Company Book Store, visited an exhibition of Oscar Wilde at the Petit Palais, had tea on the terrace of the Grand Palais. It is an easy place, Paris, to be on your own. The beauty and the history and the magic can be good company. But nothing beats laughing and enjoying it with a dear brother…