And we’re back! So I’m about 7 days behind on blogging, but I have a good excuse: my parents are in town, and every night I get home with a bottle of wine in me, and I somehow lack the motivation to write. Anyway, here’s comes the catch-up.
My parents were flying into town today, so I headed up to the airport by RER and sat around reading Lévinas and drinking coffee until their plane landed. It took them seemingly forever to get their luggage and come through customs, but eventually they made it and we hopped into a cab. Traffic was mercifully low on the highways, and so we were downtown pretty quickly. My parents (and, next week, my sister too) are renting an apartment in the Marais, so we spent a few minutes circling the one-way streets that neighborhood before we finally got close enough to the apartment to walk. The guy responsible for renting out the apartment showed up shortly thereafter and gave us the keys and a quick tour. The apartment is pretty rad, all things considered, and it’s about half a block from the old Jewish neighborhood of Paris, rue des rosiers.
My folks were famished, so we dropped off their luggage and headed straight out to a place on rue soufflot (near the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens) called La Gueuze. Gueuze is a kind of lambic beer made in Belgium, often consumed with the traditional Belgian specialty of moules frites (“mussels and fries”). We each had a big kettle of mussels and a pint of fine Belgian beer, and then headed out in the drizzling rain for a walk.
Paris was doing a lovely job of welcoming my parents with its finest winter weather: grey skies, low cloud ceiling, incessant drizzling rain, high humidity, barely-above-freezing temperatures. Nonetheless, my parents have been living in Canada for more than 30 years and they know from cold, so we just kept walking. We wound through the Latin Quarter, checked out the church of St. Severin, traversed the famous rue de la huchette (whose restaurants are now mostly tourist traps) and then over to the island of Notre-Dame. It’s my dad’s first time in Paris, so we were trying to give him the “scenic” route from the restaurant back to the apartment.
Part of the goal of the walk was also to keep everyone awake as long as possible, since they had a 6-hour jet-lag to overcome. The secret to recovering jet-lag is to stay awake until night falls, and then to rise with the sun the next day. This was tough for my dad, who didn’t sleep on the flight; there was a medical emergency on the flight and he was called up to look after another passenger. Nonetheless, I managed to cajole them into walking past the hôtel de ville (town hall), through BHV, down the main drag of the gay neighborhood, and then through the Jewish neighborhood.
While my parents started unpacking and settling in, I headed around the corner and got them some bread and basic groceries, then left them to get some sleep.