This is a photo of the cafe where I ended up having three of my petit dejeune, Aux Marsouins. I will go back - the baguette and cafe were worth any return trip, but it was also just nicely placed and I liked the folks who came to eat or drink there. I think the proprietors are Morocan. The man at the bar who served me the first and second days asked me to give his regards to Barack, Michelle and the girls! Very nice people and they had free WiFi.
Did I mention how much I enjoyed Paris? What a pretty, pretty, pretty city - beautiful, yes, but on such a pedestrian scale that I found it all to be touchable, fathomable. The people were not the draw - and that was very different than in Mali - but I wanted to stay. I forgot, for a day - that first day of travel - that I was heading on to Mali. But then Mali was not a reality in my mind and Paris was a childhood fantasy coming to life under my feet and on my tongue from the bottle of Bordeaux I shared with my aunt's friend Pierre Mendel.
The day I arrived in Paris, 29 Jan., was just 29 degrees F and raining. My feet hurt because I had to walk so far in the Richmond, Atlanta and then Charles DeGaulle airports, the metro and finally 5 blocks from the Port Royal station to the Hotel Port Royal. Later I realized none of that walk was so bad, I was just exhausted and footsore and didn't know where I was going. My French language skills at that point were little more than a passable accent and "bonjour" "un billet pour Paris?" et "oui, merci, un cafe."
Pierre is a photographer/film-maker in his early 80s with whom my aunt Anne Talltree shared a mutual friend. Pierre woke me from my nap around 3pm and arranged to pick me up for a driving tour of the center of the city. After it got dark, he parked his tiny red car behind his building and we walked to a nearby restaurant where I enjoyed a thoroughly comforting bœuf bourguignon, he ordered steak tartar and we shared a lovely bottle of Bordeaux. Afterwards we spent an hour looking at his photographs from a recent exhibition and then he drove me back to the hotel. I was wiped out and needed to be ready to depart in the morning for my afternoon flight via Orly aeroport. I had a 2pm flight and wanted to be there in plenty of time. Turns out I had plenty of time.
I arrived at the airport to check in around 12:45 and it took three people with varying English skills to convey that my flight had been changed to 11am and was long gone. I was told to go back into Paris and to the Point Afrique office, that they would take care of it, because it was clearly not my fault. The agents arranged a new flight for the next evening, Sunday, via Air Mali and all I lost was a critical day in Bamako. I did however, gain an extra day in Paris, which was lovely - the weather too. You get 204 slides of Paris as a result, thank you very much.
|2nd Day in Paris|
Next stop: Africa. Mali. Bamako. Segou. Djenne. Segou. Bamako. Paris. Atlanta. Richmond.
(My feet were tired and the rest of me completely worn out from lugging my luggage all over Paris after resolving the flight problem. My consolation was that I found a Bradt guide to Mali and a pair of boots - a tall, low-heeled pair of light brown leather boots (Spanish leather, the saleswoman told me) in a shop on Rue St. Michel. Just exactly what I've been looking for, for two years. My feet were pretty happy then and, now that I'm home, the boots wear like slippers.)