Carla-time! It was Carla’s day to arrive, so the plan was that I would go get her from the airport and my parents would go for a walk and get some bread and fixings for lunch. The flight was a bit late and luggage claim was the usual slow mess, so we didn’t get out of the airport until maybe 13h00 or so, but Carla was nonetheless amazed at how non-traumatic the experience was. Usually, travelling through Charles-de-Gaulle airport is a scarring experience.
We got back to the apartment to find my mom hanging out of the second-floor window, shouting, “Hey! Hi! I see you! Welcome to France!” Sigh. So much for acting like locals.
Anyway, we ate a light lunch of bread, salad and small quiches from the nearby bakery, and then asked Carla what she wanted to do. Stunningly, she had actually slept during her red-eye flight, so she was fully awake and ready to go for a walk. We headed over to the St. Paul Village just south of rue Rivoli, and found the shops to be mostly “boutique artisan” shops of the sort you find in the Distillery district in Toronto, mostly full of hand-made tchotchke.
From there, we walked over the river and onto the island of St. Louis, where we wandered along the shops of the main drag. We made it to the other island (Ile de la Cité) and walked through Notre-Dame, since there wasn’t much of a crowd.
Just as we were getting ready to leave the church, an evening mass started. My mom wanted to stay for the mass and my sister agreed to accompany her, but my dad was in no mood to stick around, so I left with him and we walked around the island for a while. We sat down in the café facing the church for a coffee, where we were served by this adorable young guy who was probably 20 but had been dressed up in the most stereotypical, old-fashioned café garçon outfit I could imagine: black vest, pocket watch with chain, bottle opener hanging from the vest by another chain, little change apron, etc. Also, he was remarkable for being the only person I’ve seen so far whose butt looks good in those schlumpy black slacks that all café waiters wear here.
We timed the mass pretty well and met the ladies in front of the church as the service was letting out. We decided that an early and light dinner would be a good idea, so we walked back across the river and caught the métro to Belleville, where we went to my favourite Vietnamese Pho shop, TinTin.
There’s no point in describing the dinner in detail; I’ve written about this place numerous times before on this blog. The pho was delicious and satisfying, the tea was pretty good, and the Vietnamese spring rolls were pretty tasty.
After dinner, my sister was beginning to feel tired, but we all needed a long walk to digest the massive quantity of soup that we had just ingested. So we walked around Belleville, down Faubourg du Temple to avenue Parmentier, and then down past my apartment. From there, I sent them on their way home and I climbed the 6 flights of stairs to my place…slowly.