Long Days and Long Nights

Last Saturday I went out into the sunshine. If you live somewhere where periods of the year are rainy or cold, you understand how glorious it is when a beautiful day arrives.

Sometimes when I see a church, I stop in and walk around the inside and look at the stained glass windows and statues of saints. How utterly tranquil and filled with light this church was.


People who don’t live in France sometimes ask me if I shop at outdoor markets. The answer is: not often enough. Like many other city residents, I usually make a one-stop shop at the supermarket. But once in a while, I remember that there are markets open every day, in every arrondissement, and I go.115.market.2015a 115.market.2015b

My fridge is now stocked with broccoli, carrots, turnips, garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, and leafy greens.

I picked up mozzarella from a small grocery and fondant au chocolat from the frozen food chain Picard before heading home to make lunch.

Next was a stroll on boulevard du Montparnasse for a little shopping.

This month I didn’t buy the 70 euro monthly metro pass, so I am walking and biking everywhere. According to the weekly vélib email that shows up in my inbox, last week I biked 3 hours and 45 minutes.

My purchases and purse fit neatly in the metal basket of the heavy gray bike.

Unbelievably, the sun was still warm and shining at 7 in the evening. I took the opportunity to sit in the Luxembourg Gardens and finish Deborah Moggach’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I had borrowed from my favorite library.

After a quick munch on the broccoli I had cooked earlier, I headed out for a group rendez-vous at Belleville. A sit on a terrasse was followed by dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and a night out.

Is it any wonder that this is my favorite time of year here? When the nice weather rolls around and the days grow longer, I struggle to think how I spent my free time during the winter season!

I Vélib

I recently became a véliber.

Vélib is the rent-a-bike system in Paris.  After a year of missing my bike but being wary of biking amongst the zooming scooters, cars, and buses, I finally signed up for a year’s subscription after an especially lovely bike ride along the Canal St-Martin.

On Tuesday morning I received my Vélib card in the mail.  Although my intention was to ease into biking in the city, perhaps by trying it out on a quiet Sunday morning or late at night, I couldn’t wait to use it and instead chose baptism by fire.  Tuesday night, I biked during rush hour from the busy Invalides area to the Luxembourg Gardens.  I ended up circling Invalides for a while, not yet having the instinct of where in the lane to position myself and therefore just following the flow of traffic because I was in the right lane and didn’t know how to cross in front of adjacent cars to switch over to the left.  After I reoriented myself in the right direction, I had no problems, and it was a successful trip.

The next morning, I biked over to the seventh arrondissement and discovered that the bike station I knew of was full, so there was no spot for me to return my bike.  Well, to be more accurate, there was one spot free but it made an angry beeping noise every time I tried to insert my bike.

Vélib stations are everywhere, but I didn’t know which side street might have one, so I continued along the road across from the Seine River until I came upon one.  It wasn’t very close to my destination, but at that point I was just happy to find one with open spots.  I quickly returned my bike and started walking to my destination.

Halfway there, I realized that I had forgotten my helmet on the bike handle.  I walked back, and to my dismay, it was no longer there.  I thought, did someone really take my dinky little helmet with yellow flowers that quickly?  It’s an old helmet, but I had brought it from the United States so I wouldn’t have to buy one here.  I walked back and forth past the dozens of identical gray bikes, hoping my helmet would materialize.

I caught sight of one of the city cleaning staff by the bike station, and I asked him if he had seen a helmet by any chance.  “Si, si,” he said, he had just put it in the garbage bag on the corner.  He walked me towards it.  Happily, I retrieved my helmet.  There wasn’t that much in the trash, so it was in fine condition.

Lesson learned: Those city cleaners are really good at their jobs!

Taking It Slow

This weekend a friend and I biked along the Canal St-Martin, from Paris out into the suburbs of St-Denis, Pantin, and Noisy-le-Sec.  It was lovely.  One of the highlights was a little old lady overtaking us and saying (in French), “Is that the way Parisians bike?”

Along the way we also saw this graffiti-covered warehouse.  The bright paint added color to the gray building against the gray sky reflected in the silvery water.