Montmartre on a Saturday Morning

Rue Lepic

Rue Lepic

Villa Leandre

Avenue Junot

Montmartre

Rue Caulaincourt

Montmartre vineyards

Boulangerie, Rue Caulaincourt

I love my neighborhood. We stayed in Montmartre on the last trip, too, and it feels really “mine” this time. Remember Villa Leandre? It did not disappoint in person, though I had to awkwardly wait on the corner for a Russian tour group to take their photos before I had it all to myself. Patience! I forgot how much patience goes into shooting. And how much covert lurking is needed to not look too tourist-y. I’m really good at lurking.

My landlord told me a brief history of the neighborhood on my first day here: When the Prussians invaded the city in 1870, they massacred the family that owned the moulins (the windmills) in Montmartre, and pinned their body parts to the fans, staining them red with blood. Years later when the first cabarets were opening, Montmartre, not being within the Paris city limits at the time, was able to open several bars and use wine from their own vineyards without paying the alcohol tax to the city. They needed a name that would draw attention, and thus the Moulin Rouge was born. Kind of macabre when you know the story behind how it got its name. I can see the famous red windmill from my terrace.

Other Paris Details of Note: I have a croissant every morning, I’ve already been to Ladurée, and the weather has been so beautiful I could cry. Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Paris So Far

Somewhere in Paris

Place du Palais Bourbon

Rue de la Universite

Somewhere in Paris

Rue de la Universite

Dani Roses

Place Vendome

I made it to Paris! My luggage, however, was not so lucky and did not make the connection in Charlotte. The 40 minute connection that I had to run for. Quelle suprise my luggage never made it on my flight, there was no way it could have being two terminals away and with that short a time window. A US Airways representative at CDG, disregarding my obvious panic, said simply, “Ah, yes, your bag is in Charlotte.” Bon, mais I am in Paris, not Charlotte. “It will be on the next flight to Paris.” Promising! I planned for this exact scenario, so all the important things are in my carry-on. Except my shampoo…hmm. “It will be delivered by noon tomorrow.” That’s not so bad, right? I can buy shampoo somewhere. I’ve missed French pharmacies anyway!

Noon came and went. “Before the end of the day.” Okay, well I’m not going to sit inside all day waiting around (although I was writing).”Between 8-9pm.” The rain had finally stopped, and I had yet to see the Eiffel Tower. Walked six miles through Saint-Germain-des-Prés and back. 9pm. No bag. “Within one hour.” 10pm. I Skype Jamal in a moment of crisis, he calls US Airways, escalates to a supervisor (“Hello sir, I see you’re calling about your daughter’s luggage?” DAUGHTER, YOU GUYS). And then! Magique! My luggage! My luggage being brought up the street, I clutched it in my hands, vowing to never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go, and I schlep it up, up, up four winding flights of uneven stairs, thus ensuring I burned off the nutella crepe I inhaled earlier. I have never been so happy to see my shampoo and pants in my life. Pants!

Donc, bien sûr my luggage was delayed. Et bien sûr it rained for most of the last two days. But if I focused on that, you wouldn’t get to hear about how I went to a boulangerie at 7am and bought a fresh, warm croissant for €1, and successfully completed the entire transaction en Français. Or how I met the incredibly sweet and funny Christine for un café gourmand and then crazily made her check my mattress for bed bugs (long story). Or how she even offered to lend me clothes if my luggage was any more delayed! Or how the sun stays out until 9pm. Or how, as I approached the Eiffel Tower for the first time I gasped like a silly American tourist. Or, perhaps most importantly, how fascinating and trippy it is to watch “Friends” dubbed in French, though at the same time excellent practice since I know all the (English) dialogue by heart.

So yes. Paris so far isn’t half bad.

PS. I miss Jamal.

Bon Voyage

Paris Sky

Today is the day, le jour est arrivé. Jamal is driving me to the airport in a few hours, and I’ve been squeeze-hugging Fitz against his will all morning. I’m feeling so many things at once and they’re all competing for first place, which has turned me into a blubbering mess. Happy! Scared! Anxious! Excited! Sad! Is this really happening? It’s really happening! (Wait, did you remember to pack underwear?)

This is an oft-repeated line this week, whenever someone asks if I’m ready: I’ve spent so much time packing and planning and prepping for all the various stages and details of this trip that now all that’s left to do is go to Paris. And that’s the most overwhelming step!

I’ll see you in Paris.

Let’s Set Some Ground Rules

Bateaux Mouches

In order to maximize my eight weeks in Paris, I thought it would be helpful to make up a list of guidelines to stick to, so I don’t end up taking even a single second for granted. Ten sounds like a nice round number, and hopefully by sharing them with you, it will keep me accountable so you all know I’m not staying in bed, overwhelmed by everything. (I’m writing it to myself in the third person. Because of course).

1. Write every day. You are in Paris, first and foremost, because of, and for, your book. Write it.
2. Walk every day. Sure, June is the rainiest month in Paris, but that’s why you packed boots. It’s just water, get off your derrière and go.
3. Don’t go anywhere without your camera. Even if it’s a quick run to the Marché Franprix for groceries, there will inevitably be something you’ll want to capture. Delete nothing.
4. Cheese. That is all.
5. Keep the (happy) crying to a minimum, and only ever indoors.
6. Go to a museum at least once a week. Entry to the Musée Rodin gardens is just €2, and a Louvre membership will pay for itself after three visits.
7. Buy fresh flowers for your apartment, a fresh baked croissant on your morning walk, and a glass of rosé at any café you stumble upon. Parisians understand how to live a really beautiful, decadent life. Take note.
8. Speak French with the locals every day. Stop being afraid of using the wrong conjugation, the wrong pronoun, the wrong accent. Parlez!
9. Calories and credit card limits still exist on vacation — don’t go crazy. (But still remember to treat yo self.)
10.  Be present, be grateful, and be happy. You are in Paris.

Do you have any other pointers for me? Anything you think I should keep in mind? I know the entire trip won’t be a fairytale — real life doesn’t work that way, even if you’re in Paris to work on a novel, or living out any other fabulous cliché. I’m sure I’ll have lonely, off days when I’ll feel grumpy or persnickety regardless of my proximity to the Eiffel Tower. My remedy for that will be (you guessed it) cheese. And maybe a Skype session home to my man & puppy.

I’m Moving to Paris!

paris2014_1

You read that right, though maybe I’m overstating the “move” aspect, as it implies permanency. I will be spending two months (eight weeks! 61 days!) in Paris! PARIS! I leave April 30th (hence the countdown!) and fly home June 30th. I’ve been bursting at the seams wanting to tell you guys, the excitement has been just overwhelming. I might have slipped and told a few of you last year, but who knows if you believed me because when am I not threatening to move to Paris? This time it’s real. This is not a drill.

I’m sure you have a ton of questions, so let me see if I can head them off:

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