It thrills me that the famous and historic Pont Neuf (The Ninth Bridge) is the landmark to our apartment. A short walk across it with the extra benefit of a view of the Seine River below, and I’m happy. The streets are narrow and filled with people, and although brushing up against them is part of the experience, I'm uncomfortable with it. The French are handsome people, and the children are beautiful and very animated.
Last night we went to the Opera Garnier to see “Hommage to Jerome Robbins” (of Westside Story fame), and it was the best dance performance I’ve ever seen. The dancing was sublime, poetic, and inventive. The sets were minimal as were the costumes, and the contrast between them and an ornate opera hall built in the mid 1800’s couldn’t have been larger. Arriving home late, we feasted on pate de canard (goose liver paste) and a glass of wine. The thick slice of it was covered in a thick, slightly yellow gelee (gelatin) and the pate is a subtle swirl of the opalescent ochres and pinks I see in the sunsets when we’re on the boat on the Columbia River.
On the book shelf in our apartment I found a book titled “French or Foe” by Polly Platt, and it is helping me understand the French in new ways. Much has been written about their “no smile public face” that many Americans take for coldness. She offers this tip, and I’m going to try it today with a waiter. She advises that you remember that the French are respectful and proper, but that you can change the “no smile zone” to friendliness if you know these 10 magic words: “Excusez-moi de vous deranger, Madame (or Monsieur), mais j’ai un problem.” (Excuse me madame or sir, but I have a problem.)
It continues to be cold, sometimes rainy, and partly cloudy. The city is clean, quite easy to navigate, and we walk almost everywhere.