The March trip to Europe keeps getting bigger, with a meeting in Paris added over the past week. I suppose it is time to confront that old Paris demon. Sure, I’ve changed planes there in recent years — learning in the process to avoid Charles DeGaulle at all costs. But I’ve not returned to the city itself since 1997, when I made my very first, ill-fated trip to Europe. At the time, it seemed a no brainer to visit a friend who was living there, but in retrospect it was the worst possible introduction to the continent — and the very reason my next few trips across the pond took me no further east than London, all of which is detailed in FLOM:
The friend I was visiting in Paris is tall, or at least taller than my five-foot-four frame, and elegantly thin. As someone noted in our days of working together back in Denver in the early nineteen eighties when she was consuming soft drinks and Snickers all day long, she has a metabolism like a coke furnace. For that reason, she has never had to exercise a day in her life to keep her figure. It’s gotten to be a lifestyle, and no doubt one of the reasons she found Europe so disagreeable was its pedestrian culture.
So when I was in Paris, she worked long and hard to get us to our destinations with as few steps taken as possible. This meant numerous and complicated connections on the Paris Metro. On bright, sunny breezy days in Paris with the chestnut trees in bloom, we spent a considerable amount of time underground. Our dinners were determined on whether she had the energy to walk two blocks out of her way to a better shop or café than the ones just outside her door. She kept promising a trip to a big outdoor market. Finally, one morning we waited for at least fifteen minutes on a cold windy corner for a bus, only to ride it for one stop, maybe two, to a market no more than six blocks away. I thought I’d seen it all in my previous seven days in Paris, but that left me flabbergasted.