If Saturday was our “picture perfect day” in Paris, then Sunday was the day where Murphy’s Law kicked in and everything went wrong. It was drizzly and overcast, but not unbearable, so we hit the streets early and headed down to Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité. We walked along the Seine before heading into the behemoth church. It was packed with Sunday morning mass-goers and tourists alike, celebrating its 850th (!!!) birthday. It was beautiful inside, and we caught the tail end of the mass services (delivered in French, obviously), and as we were walking around the back of the cathedral, the processional of priests and alter boys came down the aisle towards us with the incense and all the religious accoutrements they use in mass. It was incredible. I took a quick video on my camera, and then switched the dial back to Manual mode. The screen on my camera showed a red error message of “BUSY” and then seemed fine. (This is what we call ‘foreshadowing’).
We spent the rest of the day wandering around Saint-Germain and having a fantastic (and fantastically overpriced; it was €7 for a tiny bottle of Orangina) lunch at Le Bonaparte, macarons at Ladurée, and shopping on the Île Saint-Louis. We also walked along Rue de Seine as part of my book research (remember that?! I’m writing a book! supposedly!); Rue de Seine and the streets around it have a ton of small galleries and art spaces and antique furniture stores, and is the setting of Sylvie’s gallery, where Mirette works. I’d spent so much time researching this neighborhood and virtually walking around in Google Earth, and so much time developing these characters and their habits and their lives, that to finally be there, on that street…it felt as if, at any moment, one of my characters would just pop to life on the sidewalk in front of me. That’s how real it all felt. It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.
Unfortunately, all of my pictures from that afternoon were lost. My memory card corrupted when I tried to take a video in Notre Dame (hence the error message), and didn’t capture anything I shot after that. While everything I’d shot previously was safe (THANK GOD), it did result in 40 or so lost photographs, a lot of tears, and something that looked like this. We ended up finding a store that sold memory cards and camera equipment, but this being a Sunday in Paris, everything was closed until Monday. JAMAL fed me macarons until I got over it enough to compose myself, and we headed down to Rue Poissonnières for the comedy show that night, “How to Become Parisian in One Hour.” Only neither of us had checked the tickets since he gave them to me for Valentine’s Day, and we were both under the impression that the show as at 8pm. False. The show was at 6pm, and we arrived at the theater to find the gates down and the doors locked. More tears!! I was practically inconsolable at this point, but thankfully some kind man working inside the theater opened the doors and gave us the business card of the woman who organizes the show, and told us to call her tomorrow to explain we were dumb Americans. The icing on the cake was that we had planned to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant near the theater, and when we walked over, we found out they were closed for vacation.
So yeah, not everything goes perfectly in Paris! Here’s where the story gets a happy ending though: I bought a new memory card Monday morning, we re-visited a lot of the places we’d been the day before, I re-shot most of my deleted photographs, we called the woman who ran the show and she took pity on us and gave us free tickets for Tuesday night’s performance, and we ended up having an amazing (and cheap!) boozy Indian dinner Sunday night instead of Mexican with some of the best paneer we’ve ever had. All was not lost.
Some of these stairs have cat paw prints imprinted on them, from the famous cats of Montmartre. They exist! JAMAL’s allergies were going haywire.