Maddie, Metin & I ventured up to Montmartre Saturday evening for aimless strolling (the french verb 'se promener' would be applicable). We literally traveled 'up' to this hilled neighborhood in the 18e arrondissement.
When we arrived at the metro station Abbesses (you might recognize this spot from the movie Amelie), hoards of people stood at the bottom of the exit staircases as if they were waiting for something. We couldn't figure out if this loitering was normal or if there was something above ground to be avoided. It wasn't till climbing breathlessly up long, steep flights of the winding staircase when Maddie and I realized that the people had been waiting for an elevator. Montmartre is extremely elevated, I later read that this famous staircase boasts 200 some odd stairs. The walk upwards was well worth it, though, as art covers the walls you hike past during this little workout.
After exploring the cobblestoned streets for a few hours, the sun set and we ducked into a small cafe for an early dinner. The tradition of dining and lingering seems to be imperative to our adaption to the Parisian lifestyle. No matter how little you order at restaurants, the waiters hardly ever make you feel rushed and as if your seat will soon be filled with their next customer. In France, the dining experience is leisurely and important: it's a time to relax, chat, ponder, and of course to savor over 'la nourriture'. You rarely see cell phones on the table, people take advantage of being face-to-face and often speak close, intimately.
In trying to adjust to this new city & especially this new country (I guess you could say continent, too) my good friend Eve reminds me that Paris is not as foreign as it may seem, it's merely big sister to our beloved West Village in New York City. Though the Montmartre neighborhood is far more elevated and much more grandiose than our tiny village, there are definitely elements of the buildings and cafes which make me feel right at home. I assume obviously that the West Village is more influenced by Paris than the latter is by the former, but sometimes it's overwhelming to be in that place of origination that people so often refer back to in film, art, architecture.
Near the end of the evening we set up camp on the outdoor terrace of a historical bar in Le Marais, ordering drinks and people-watching for hours...it makes me so excited thinking about more nights to be spent outside once it starts to warm up..
xx jacqueline harriet