Thursday, December 27th 2012:
“It is now the fall of my second year in Paris. I was sent here for a reason I have not yet been able to fathom. I have no money, no resources, no hope. I am the happiest man alive.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
The last full day in Paris means breakfast in bed. Our same waitress from the previous two mornings knocked on our door while I was still in the shower. A tray stacked with croissants and much-needed coffee placed on the edge of the bed. A grey morning outside. I wanted to see the catacombs. We walked down to Montparnasse but the line was already far too long, the weather not looking great. I was really dissapointed, but I knew we would have another chance later in the day. Time to move on.
“Paris is like a whore. From a distance she seems ravishing, you can’t wait until you have her in your arms. And five minutes later you feel empty, disgusted with yourself. You feel tricked.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
We walked back up to Saint-Germain. Marissa wanted to buy some macarons from Laduree. We chose six flavors and took them out into the street. We planned on eating them on a bench down by the Seine, but the first daylight rain of the trip started trickling down. We made it into a cafe near Notre Dame just before it got bad, ordered some coffee and waited it out. I can’t remember the name of the cafe, wasn’t worth remembering. Just a place to get out of the rain for twenty minutes.
“I made up my mind that I would hold onto nothing, that I would expect nothing.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
We were just about to go back to the hotel to wait for the weather clear up but I knew we were pretty close to a lunch spot I wanted to try. I got us lost for a minute right before the rain really started coming down, turn to the right, L’Avant Comptoir. My favorite meal of the trip. It’s basically the waiting area for the much more formal Le Comptoir next door. You jockey your way up to the bar, order a sandwich, some French tapas, a glass of wine. 1965 Bob Dylan playing loud on the stereo. Ham and cheese on the most perfect bread, spicy mustard. So simple. I wish I had found this place earlier in the trip, I would’ve eaten there every day.
“I’ve lived out my melancholy youth. I don’t give a fuck anymore what’s behind me, or what’s ahead of me. I’m healthy. Incurably healthy. No sorrows, no regrets. No past, no future. The present is enough for me. Day by day. Today!” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
We headed back in the direction of our hotel. Stopped into Gibert Joseph, a huge sort of Parisian Borders. About six floors of books, records, toys, ephemera, and writing supplies. We spent an hour looking over every shelf. Marissa bought presents to send back home for Christmas, then asked if there was anything I wanted. I picked out a French mass-market paperback edition of Tropic of Cancer, one of my favorite books. I first read it in 1999 or 2000. I was about 17 years old, about to graduate high school. It made me want to be an artist. It made me want to get lost overseas and travel. It probably made me think about Paris for the first time. Okay, let’s get back into it…
We continued back towards the hotel, shopping bags in hand. The sun was finally coming out from the behind the clouds as we passed Jardin du Luxembourg. We decided to walk through again, a perfect time to sit on a bench and break open those macarons. We hated them. Took a bite of each flavor and shoved them back in the bag. Back to the hotel to dry off, change socks.
“Twilight hour. Indian blue, water of glass, trees glistening and liquescent.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
It was around 3:00PM. I wanted to give the catacombs another shot. With my newfound expertise of the Paris Metro I figured we could get there in less than 10 minutes. We got off at our stop and could not figure out how to exit the station, completely frustrating at the time, hilarious when I think back on it. We finally got in line just in time for them to shut it down, too late. Oh well, next time. We hopped back on the train and headed to the West Bank to do some window shopping. Walked through an area west of the Lourve, all extremely high end shops, nothing I could afford. Went in Bookmarc where I saw a copy of my friend RJ‘s latest book laying on a shelf.
“The sun is setting. I feel this river flowing through me -its past; its ancient soil, the changing climate. The hills gently girdle it about: its course is fixed.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
The Metro back to Le Marais. We were starving at this point. We walked into a couple second-hand shops, an Israel-themed store specializing in exotic condiments. After passing it twice we went in to La Perla, a Mexican bar. Classic French food would maybe have made more sense for a last night in Paris, but this turned out to be one of my favorite places we went, perfect for this night. Really good margaritas, dark red lights. Chips, salsa, guacamole, another round of margaritas.
Stumbling through the streets back to the hotel. Sat and watched the ice skaters outside the Hôtel de Ville for a while. One last cup of vin chaud from a Christmas stand, some over-cooked churros we barely touched. And that’s it. Tommorow is Barcelona.