Hello and Goodbye to Paris.
PARIS–My hotel here is typical of the small, Parisian hotels, of which there are many thousands, I’m sure. This one has perhaps 30 rooms on six floors; they are reached by an elevator that can accommodate two people–perhaps three, if there is no luggage.
My room is located on the second floor and is, by American standards, tiny. Of course, all reasonably priced hotel rooms in Paris are small. You want a spacious, American-sized hotel room in this town? Be prepared to fork over $700-$800 a night. Or more.
This hotel, the Hotel Jardin de Cluny, is located in an area cluttered with little retail shops and lots of restaurants–sandwich shops, tiny pizza joints, hole-in-the-wall places offering ethnic foods and, of course, the stereotypical bistros and brasseries, with tiny tables crowded together inside and spilling out onto the sidewalk.
I had dinner at one such place last night and was seated next to a couple speaking English: he, a Kiwi; she originally from Malaysia, and both now living in Australia. Not more than five minutes into our polite, get-to-know-you conversation, the man said, “Well, these are interesting times for you Americans, aren’t they!” (Guess where that conversation was headed!) The next thing I knew, these two articulate, informed, intelligent people expressed the view that roughly half of the American voters must have somehow lost their minds. Donald Trump scares the crap out of them.
I spent several delightful hours today just strolling around the immediate neighborhood … and being careful not to get lost in these older Parisian neighborhoods. It’s easy to do, too. After a while, one funky little street corner looks pretty much like every other one. Of course you remember the name of the street your hotel is on, but you have no idea how to get back there.
Parking is a constant problem. There are no public parking lots, so people park everywhere and anywhere. Last night, as I was heading for the restaurant, a distinguished-looking man driving a black Audi sedan turned the corner in front of me and stopped halfway ’round, the rear of his car blocking most of the crosswalk. He got out, clicked the door locks, and walked away.
This morning I’m off by train to Chalon-sur-Saône. More reports to come.