Englishman in Paris

Hemingway once wrote that Paris is a moveable feast. Last week was my second time in Paris. It is certainly a big city with diversity streaming from all directions and a few doubtful entrepreneurs that are trying to take advantage of excited tourists marching our of the doors of Charles de Gaule airport and strolling around the parks of Versailles.

Although my cab driver also profited from our naivety as tourists, my mood was soon improved by meeting a friend whom I have not seen for 4 years. We had a drink, talked about everything that happened since we last saw each other and parted our ways at Rue du Bac which is in Saint-Germain – a so-called “literary” district in Paris.

I walked by the cafe where Hemingway liked to have a drink back in the days. They now sell “Hemingway coffee” for 8 Euro if you would like to enjoy the taste of his writing days in France. I skipped the cafe and turned right in the direction of Seine. Paris is loud, it is living to its fullest but if you walk down to the shore of Seine, you can walk in peace undisturbed by the traffic roar.

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I thought the Seine was marvelous and so did the art students. They sat right there on the stone walkway with their pencils our trying to capture the view of dynamicity and peace combined. I walked by peeking at their drawing and turned towards a stand of postcards in a typic tourist store that fill Paris city center on every corner. I have a small collection of postcards from different places I visited before that look as though they were painting.

There was a postcard of one of the Paris landmarks that seemed perfect for my collection at home. I took it and headed to the counter to pay 1 Euro. By my Canadian habit, I did not carry any cash with me – I also just arrived. I attempted to pay by card by the seller said they do not take cards for as little as 1 Euro. “Well, I will have to come next time”, I said, turning around while someone tapped me on a shoulder. A respectfully looking man in a suit asked in British English offered to pay for a card. Then, the store owner offered it as a gift all together.

Now, when I look at that card on my wall, I will think of the slightly shy Englishman and his act of kindness. My French friend Manon noted that this does not happen often in Paris. I do not know if it does, but as Hemingway said, Paris is a moveable feast.

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