This will sound terribly obvious, but I love Paris in the springtime. I think we were very lucky; we got the first beautiful week of weather here. I’ve been lucky in my life to come here many times, first with my mom when I was 15 going on 16. I couldn’t believe she was dragging me away from my friends in the cosmopolitan hub (especially back then) of London, Ontario. And I’m forever grateful that she did, because that summer she instilled a life-long love of travel in her daughter, and a life-long love of France in particular.
You see those little turrets in the background? That’s the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette (among others) was held until her beheading. And that’s one of the many things I love about this city – there is literal history around every single corner. And there is style, and bustling café life, and a true joie de vivre (or joie de beaver as Ashley in “Molecules” would say) even in the face of adversity. There is still also the smell of pee in many places along the sidewalks – one drawback to so much concrete. Hey, the dogs (and I suspect many humans) have to go somewhere. Much less dog poop than in the past, but walker beware … I do a scan of half a block before I let myself look around and up!
I’ve been largely a tourist here while Husband is at his trade show every day. I just walk. I leave our beautiful hotel (where the sheets and towels smell of lavender) and let myself get lost. It isn’t hard. I have a terrible sense of direction. Yesterday I actually, literally, walked in circles without knowing it. Above are the slightly crazed lions at the fountain outside Saint Sulpice, which is a stone’s throw from our hotel.
On Tuesday I also went to Musée Rodin. I’ve been there before but it is the perfect spot to sit in the garden and drink a coffee and listen to the bird song, then wander through the outdoor sculpture garden. I caught a glimpse of that ol’ Eiffel Tower from there, too. I also did some shopping, and later that evening Husband and I met up with some of his colleagues for dinner out. Afterward Husband and I walked to Les Deux Magots, where the likes of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre hung out. Maybe it’s a touristy thing to do, but I must say – it never loses its charm. And it is always full of Parisians. Last time I was there with my lovely translator and editor, and the translator got very excited as we entered, saying “Don’t look now, but there is a famous French intellectual at a table inside.” Now there’s a line you would never, ever hear uttered in North America. Husband had an armagnac and I had eau de vie, Poire William.
We wandered by the Panthéon before heading home. Yesterday (Wednesday) I had the true pleasure of visiting my French publisher’s offices. Hélium has been with me pretty much from the get-go, and they are the only foreign publisher to have translated all of my books. They are wonderful people, led by Sophie Giraud. Those are the big red doors one walks through, off Rue St. André des Arts, to get there. Rozenn and her adoring colleague were there to greet me. Four of us went out for the best meal I think I’ve ever had in Paris, at KGB – Kitchen Galerie Bis. I don’t normally post food photos but boy oh boy, this was so damned good!
The company was even better; Sophie the publisher, Gilberte my lovely editor, and Rozenn, who I think just does everything else!I wandered the city after lunch then I was so pooped I had a nap back at the hotel (for those who know me well they will know I’m an expert napper – however on this trip I think this was only my second nap, mon dieu!). Then I wandered back to my publisher’s, for an evening with booksellers. On the way I saw this gorgeous display of vegetables – something else the French do so well. First, I was interviewed by the lovely Nathan Levesque, who interviewed me back in 2013 when I was here for the Montrieul book fair. He has a blog and a YouTube channel and a big following in France. By the way, I am wearing my new dress, bought at my favourite Parisian store, Les Aventures des Toiles.
Then, at 7:30, booksellers from all around Paris began to arrive. This was a very special evening, actually getting to meet people who know, like and sell my books right here in one of my favourite cities in the world. When you live so far away, this part of things feels largely unreal; so this was really a thrill.
Plus, booksellers are such great people. I tried out my rusty French as much as I could! At one point I was interviewed by my friend and translator Valérie le Plouhinec. They were giving away the first translated version of my new book, “Optimists Die First,” which doesn’t officially come out here until August. I got the chance to meet a young reader as well, Rosalie, who’s read all my books. It was really a thrill, I must say, to be face to face with people who’ve actually read my work here. I’m so grateful to the folks at Hélium for doing this. Husband was there too, and afterward we wandered back toward our hotel, stopping at a fabulous café called Les Editeurs (felt appropriate) to share a salad, have a glass of wine, and watch the Parisian world go by from our outdoor table. A perfect ending to a perfect day.
Today, I have a little more bookish business – leaving shortly to go back to the publisher’s to shoot a video for them to use when the new book releases, and coffee with a French film producer this afternoon (he is interested in possibly optioning one of my titles). After that, it’s back to playing tourist … Husband has tomorrow off so we will wander together, then back to Vancouver on Saturday!