Connie and I went to - you guessed it - Au Tramway for breakfast. We had the lovely petit dejeuner complet, with baguette, butter and jam, croissants, juice, and for me, plenty of coffee. Then we headed out to the Gare du Nord, hours in advance of meeting R's train, hoping to buy Connie a jacket or sweater.
Somehow my mom left her jacket at home in New Jersey. In fact, when we went to Le Bon Marche on our first day here, it was to buy her a sweater... until we realized that was a very expensive store, and not at all what we needed. She has been wearing my leather jacket, but today it was cool and rainy, and we needed something for each of us.
We thought we might find a jacket in the train station itself, but although there were stores selling suitcases, scarves, and even underwear, there were no sweaters or jackets. Plus I had to convince ma merei it was perfectly all right to spend some time searching. How many errands have Allan and I done while on vacation? It happens all the time. No biggie. But also no jacket.
We waited for R's train, and as soon as R and I finished hugging, I told her what we needed, and also that Connie felt a little uncomfortable about it. I knew that R would not only understand but enjoy the challenge. We headed outside the gare, where the neighbourhood is working class and a bit gritty. To our surprise, all we saw was wedding gowns. Long, white, frilly, gaudy wedding gowns. And bridesmaids dresses. And tuxedos. And more gowns. It was quite amusing, reminding me of our old neighbourhood in New York, say, 181 Street, where Dominican girls shop for their quincinera.
We did find one wedding gown store that also had a few jackets in the window, mostly boys' clothes but some unisex. The owners were only too happy to help us, bringing different colours and sizes. We bought Connie a black hoodie! Fits her great and she looks tres hip.
And none too soon, as it was damp and cold! From there, we decided, weather be damned, we were going on a boat ride. We had a long metro ride with various switches, and walked in the rain near the Eiffel Tower, until we found the right dock. The wonderful Fareh Bella gave me two tickets for a Seine river cruise, from her trip to Paris with her mother last summer. We picked up an extra ticket for R, and got onboard.
Seeing Paris from the Seine is so special - the elegant bridges, the stone buildings, Notre Dame, couples strolling on the quais. We just chatted and enjoyed the scenery. We didn't see the funny faux Statue of Liberty that we all remembered - this must have been a shorter cruise - but it was great. By the time we docked it was almost 3:00 and we hadn't eaten lunch.
We walked beside the Eiffel Tower, in the general direction that I remembered from my trip with Allan last year. And unbeknownst to me, we had another errand to do: my mother needed a drugstore to buy earplugs. Apparently I snore! All these years complaining about Allan's snoring (pre-CPAP), and he never complained about mine?! We easily found earplugs and continued on our way.
By this time we were famished, and a brasserie appeared to save us. I had a salade nicoise, Connie had a classic beef bourguignon, R had a vegetarian sandwich, and R and I shared a half-litre of wine, and - of course - we all shared a dessert, delicate crepes with chocolate sauce.
When we emerged happy and full, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. We walked back to the river, directly under the Eiffel Tower - wow! - and along the Seine for a while. Suddenly it was past time for R to head back to her train. We hurried along, but she ended up hugging us goodbye and taking off at a run.
Connie and I hailed a cab and had a lovely ride back to the 12th. My French has improved a bit, and everyone we speak to is so friendly and helpful that I'm less self-conscious of my bad accent. The cabs have been spotlessly clean and new. A cab ride is also an unexpected fun way to see a city. Allan may remember a night in Paris, after we had heard some Algerian jazz, when we learned the hard way that the metro closes for the night! We had no idea where we were, and had a magical cab ride back to our hotel through the City of Light.
Tomorrow is our last day in Paris before we go to Giverny and then Rouen. We want to do three things, but I don't know if we'll get to them all. I'll let you know!