Early on Tuesday morning, and with a cursory glance at my passport and nobody at customs, I had officially arrived in Paris at 6:30AM. I took the RER into town, and met up with my sister. The flight over with Zoom was pretty good, and the food decent, but I was tired from being up all night. A short nap later and I was ready to go. My sister and I headed for a walk through Paris, past the Bastille, along the Seine, and to Notre Dame. We've both been inside the cathedral before, and frankly it's not the most amazing cathedral that I've seen. Unless I were to actually see Quasimodo swinging from the bell tower, I don't know if I'd wait in the huge lines to go in. My sister and I bought some supplies, and made a ham and cheese sandwich in a baguette, and had lunch in the park behind the cathedral over-looking the river. It´s been great seeing my sister again, and catching up with her. We haven't seen each other since last August.
The jet-lag caught up with me, and I slept in on Wednesday. We got some pastries for breakfast, and ate them in a little park. The pastries in France are one thing that I've really missed about the country (another is the yogurt). I spent the afternoon with my sister wandering around Paris, along the Seine and by the Louvre.
In the evening I met up with Marie and Martine (they taught French in the same city in China as me last year) for dinner. It's been almost a year since Marie and I left China last year, and it's hard to believe it's been that long already. Martine made a gourmet meal of French food that she knew I`d have a hard time finding or cooking in Canada. We had Kir for starters (white wine with cassis), three types of bread to dip in the sauces throughout the meal, Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops) raw with lime juice and herbes, asperges (like a large white asperagus) with an olive oil and egg sauce, veal with carrots and a light white wine/orange sauce, 5 types of cheese (3 goat, 2 cow), then strawberries with pepper and creme fraiche, the maple cookies that I brought, and an espresso and chocolates to cap off the evening. The food was all absolutely amazing! We had a great time remembering some of the China adventures, and they laughed because my accent has a bit of Quebecois twang to it now -which Martine said she liked because it reminded her of the old barons who still spoke with that accent in the Loire Valley up into the 20th Century.
The weather has been absolutely amazing -up to 27C and sunny- which is apparently lucky for me because it's been bad weather for a while now. On Thursday we walked by the Hotel des Invalides, had a drink while lying on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower, and walked along the Seine again. In the evening my sister took me to a great little crepe place in the student quarter, where there were ham & cheese crepes with tomato, lettuce, onion for only 3.50E! They were amazing, the best I've ever had. We sat outside in a square (which was round) with some beer and Magnum ice cream bars for dessert.
Friday we went up Montmarte to check out the Sacre Coeur. I've been to Paris a few times (don't know how many?), but the last time I was at Sacre Coeur must've been almost 7 years ago. It was nice to explore the area again, and to see the artists and winding little roads. My sister took me to the Amelie cafe, where they've now got a huge poster of Amelie inside. It was less touristy than I expected, and there were actual Parisians in the cafe. In the evening we went to the Louvre for free (it's free on Friday nights for those under 26).