Absorbing Soft Sights in Paris

A quiet stroll by the Seine

Savoring my chocolat at the café on rue Jean du Bellay on Ile Saint Luis. Once again, I retraced my steps along the cobbled walkways by the Seine. I pass brilliant yellow tulips, the city garden manicurists of Paris, the occasional dog walker and the barge residents waking to gentle laps of the river.

I am in the 4th arrondisement on my favorite island, taking my moment in the sun. I have meandered past windows filled with such delicate finery – even over to Le Marais, where shops open at 11:30 or not at all, as the mood strikes.  Saving their energy pour le nuit?

A walking tour passes just now, and the snob in me thinks; “Mo-o-o-o,” as the herd moves along. (One of my tongue-in-cheek sayings is, “I don’t do Moo.”  Such a little rebel I can be!) Perhaps, I would rather find things by accident rather than on purpose, wandering, stopping, moving along at my own will and pace.

The English woman near me describes last night’s dinner into a cell phone. “Very smart,” she says about their chosen restaurant.  I like that phrase.  And here before me is a little French girl with her grandfather.  I’m a voyeur on the world, and it is a feast-filled world…

  • Of earrings, smart and colorful
  • Of miniature French peasants made of clay by monastery inhabitants
  • Of hand-made papers, fine watercolour sets, writing pens and cobalt-blue calculators
  • A set of petit dejeuner dishes, cream and blue pichet, delicate egg cup and miniature plates
  • An Oriental shoppe with exquisite vests of silk
  • An understated tunic (will I go back for it?) with a rounded neck, long sleeves – very simple black on white, Style with the capital S
  • Galleries of art and pottery and fine textiles
  • Creperies et patisseries et tabacs et journaux

    A chic little accessory boutique

On and on, these special boutiques offer their unique wares.  And that is a significant difference here – the specialties from the butcher to the baker to the tobacco store to the pharmacie to the bistro to the salon de thé to the café – each implanting their stamp on a world leaning evermore toward sameness, chains and guaranteed monotony.

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