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'Nonsensible' Enjoy Sights, Sounds of Paris
"Youth will be served." -- Shakespeare
It's delight to tap into one’s own memories while vicariously sharing the experiences of others. We sent the boys on an overnight tour of Normandy that included what the French call La Merveille. It is, indeed, a marvel. Perched high on a small island that’s connected to the mainland by a causeway, its uses have ranged from the sacred to the profane: monastery, corsairs’ den, prison and is now the most frequently visited place in France.
I pictured the boys tromping up the steep lane where restauranteurs try to entice people into their establishments such as La Mere Poularde where the omelette was invited. I’m sure that when they reached the ramparts high above the English Channel they hoped that the tide--the fastest in the world--would roar in across the dangerous flats where there are patches of quick sand, just as I did when I was there as a young woman . . . so long ago . . .
Later I went there with Bill. We arrived at the Mount during a heavy rain. It was only 10:30, but we entered a restaurant. Bill said, "I’m chilled. I want a brandy." The owner came to our table. "Madame, Monsieur voudrait (would like) un cognac," I said. She informed me that it wasn’t normal to drink cognac in the morning.
"Mais le Monsieur pense qu’il est en train d’attraper un rhume a cause de la pluie." (But the mister thinks that he’s starting to get a cold because of the rain.) "Oh le pauvre Monsieur!" She brought the cognac and fawned over "the poor gentleman" throughout the meal. It was "le pauvre Monsieur" this and "le pauvre Monsieur" that while she barely deigned to refill my glass.
The boys were disappointed that their tour of the Normandy beaches was so short, but they did enjoy St. Malo, an ancient, walled town on the coast that had to be rebuilt after the bombing of World War II. Bill and I once spent two nights there and went there with Bill and Jean.
While the boys were away, we returned to St. Sulpice on the 21st to see if the sun would cast a circle on the gnomon at noon, the moment of the Summer Solstice. Later we walked a block from our hotel to the Place Maubert where a band was playing near to the sidewalk cafe. What fun to hear songs being sung in English with a French accent! The waiter said there’d be music all night because of a Summer Solstice Festival. Two other groups were playing near our hotel.
From the sublime to the ridiculous: That evening we strolled over to Notre Dame. What a sight! There was a huge traffic jam on the street that runs along the Seine; and I’ve never seen so many young people gathered in one spot. Thousands of them packed the plaza in front of Notre Dame and the nearby streets. I think that we were the oldest people there--sensible elders stayed home.
The "music" was the primal beat of jungle drums--boom,-boom, boomety-boom-boom, BOOM! Ah youth! They jerked like marionettes and leaped around. Girls giggled and batted their eyelashes while boys made wise cracks and flirted--all to the compelling drumbeat that wouldn’t let you stand still. The boys would have had a blast! I wondered what those who built Notre Dame would have thought.
Homeward bound, I said, "Tell me I’m not seventy years old." "You’re seventy." "But I don’t want to be seventy,, I wailed. "I want to be twenty and jump around all night with the hopdoodles." Instead we discovered a quiet, wonderful little restaurant where we had luscious, perfectly cooked filet mignon with peppercorn sauce. To each generation its pleasures! The\n we went back to the hotel and closed the windows to shut out the cacophony of three competing bands and the sound of youth.
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