After we left Notre Dame, we hopped on the Metro at the Cite’ station and headed back to the Les Halles area, where we stopped at the Franprix market and bought a few more groceries. Stopped at a boulangerie a few doors down for a fresh-baked baguette, then headed home for what we thought was to be a short nap. However, as we approached our apartment, we saw a crowd of people all dressed to the nines, and it hit me that there was about to be a wedding at the church that our little balcony overlooks. Tres bien!
We whipped out the digital camera and the video camera and immediately starting documenting the occasion – which did not go unnoticed by some of the attendees, who smiled and waved to us. From the looks of the attendees, it appeared that the bride and/or groom were from a prominent, very well-to-do family – the bride arrived in a Bentley and many of the women were sporting outrageous-looking hats that looked straight out of Gone With The Wind!
I was hoping that the church doors would remain open so we could observe the proceedings, however, they soon closed the church doors and street life on the Rue St. Honore returned to normal.
After 45 minutes or so, the videographer saw Michael and I on our balcony and asked us if he could come up to our balcony so he’d have a better vantage point for filming the newly married couple as they came out of the church! We were both in our “jammies” by then but still decent, so we figured what the heck – it’s not every day that you get to witness a wedding of the French “aristocracy”! I ran down to the front door and let the videographer in.
We all chatted for about 10-15 minutes as we waited for the church doors to open, us speaking just enough French and Jean-Marie speaking just enough English to carry on a conversation. I found myself pulling words out of my brain that I hadn’t used since college French, and Jean-Marie seemed tickled that we had made the effort to try and speak to him in his native tongue.
After he was finished filming, he gave us his business card and offered to have us over for dinner, next time we were in Paris. I cannot express in words how much this experience meant to me – as Americans in Paris we naturally experience everything through the filter of being a tourist – an “etranger” – and feel a bit like we’re on the outside looking in. But yesterday, we were honorary Parisians – if only for an hour – and Jean-Marie was our newest friend.
Our much-needed nap having been sidetracked for over an hour, we then took a nap – a THREE HOUR nap! Oops. I guess we needed it though, because I felt much better than I had earlier in the day. After cleaning up we hopped on the Metro at one of our two nearby stations, and headed for the Arc de Triomphe ). We emerged from the Charles de Gaulle and there it was – even more massive than I imagined.
We made our way through the pedestrian tunnel to the other side of the Champs-Elysees and climbed the 200+ stairs to the top. The views from the top were amazing, like a dream – Paris was showing herself off yet again like some tempting banquet.
Back down on the Champs-Elysees, we entertained the idea of grabbing a bite to eat but soon realized that everything was either going to be too expensive, too touristy, or both.
It was also starting to sprinkle, so after I snapped a couple of photos of some brilliant window displays we hopped back on the Metro back to our little neighborhood in search of a more reasonable restaurant.
We came across a Lebanese restaurant called Venus on the alley that runs diagonally behind our street, and were welcomed heartily by the proprietor, “Simple Simon” – his name for himself. Simple Simon and his American lady-friend, Annette, were the only ones in the restaurant at the time and he seemed excited to have his first customers of the evening.
Annette was a true pretty Southern Belle of indeterminate age, but I would guess she was between 45-50 years old. She had been in Paris for a month to celebrate her birthday. We chatted periodically throughout the evening, but towards the end of our meal the conversation turned to college sports. She made it very clear that she was an enthusiastic “Tarheels” fan (note, I’m not sure how to spell it, that’s how interested *I* am in college sports) and Michael piped up about his beloved Jayhawks. Some good-natured ribbing ensued but we were exhausted and so we soon asked for our check. As we were getting ready to leave, however, Simon insisted that we have another 1/4 liter of rose’ “on the house” – so, not wanting to be rude we stayed for another glass of wine and wound up leaving there around 10:30pm or so.
We walked around the corner to our place, did a little planning, and crashed. Wow – our first full day in Paris is one we will never forget.