Gitanes and Coffee


“Am I really sitting here in Paris at a cafe with you and Cliff?”  He said with a wide smile on his face, “drinking coffee and smoking Gitanes?”


Yes, yes you are.

Smoking Kills

Smoking Kills

His suitcase was to my left and his plate of quiche was to my right.

“My God!  This tastes amazing!”

He said gleefully, taking another forkfull into his mouth with a wide smile, “does all the food taste this good?”

“It better for as much as it costs,” my friend to my left stated with a wry smile.

I love Bert’s, but it is expensive, unless you are just getting a coffee and there they have it nailed.

1.70 Euro for a cafe Americaine.

That is the cheapest coffee I have found anywhere.

The quiche, however, is another story.

But my friend was happy eating it, then having a coffee and a smoke.  The traffic, both cars and foot, verdant on this sunny day in Paris.

A day fraught with the threaten of Spring.

It is not here, but I feel it just there on the horizon.

The sun was out, it was not grey, I told my friend he brought the good weather with him.

After getting him to his hotel, making plans to meet later in the evening and having already done what I needed to do today to take care of the insanity, as a good friend said, “the monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town,” I had three hours suddenly on my hands.

I left my friend and decided to take a walk along the Seine.

I got to see the Eiffel Tower from a vantage point I had not seen.

I got photograph happy.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

I walked along discovering new things to see, being swathed in sunshine, giggling, almost out loud, to myself at my sudden freedom to just be taking a walk on a Monday afternoon in Paris.

There were very few people out and I felt as though I had a secret entrée to a part of the city I had not really seen before.

I knew there were tourists about, I could spot one or two of them, but the majority of people I saw were locals doing what locals do, out enjoying the winter bright sun bouncing light gold bangles off the Seine.

I walked toward La Libertie.

I have seen it.

But I had not seen it up close.

I did not realize that there was a little spit of land in the middle of the Seine, a walking park.

On one end La Libertie stood blazing in the light.

La Libertie

La Libertie


There were a few people at the foot of the statue sitting with their faces glowing in the sunshine.

The base of the sculpture provided a wind block and caught up the heat of the sun.  A perfect place to sit and smoke a cigarette with a girlfriend.

The men walking their little dogs.

A mother playing with a son.

The water rushing past.

So quiet.

No one had a camera but me.

I felt like I really had stumbled upon a magic spot.

As though there is so little magic in Paris.

This sudden understated surprise, this strip of land in the middle of the river with La Libertie on one end, then the view of the Eiffel Tower on the other.  Down the center a path lined by trees, green moss on the trunks, green grass molding to the hill, faded mint green painted benches.

River Path

River Path

I traipsed slowly along, taking in both sides of the river, happy in my silence.  Smothered in light, saturated with simple happiness.

I practised saying it out loud.

“Je suis hereux.”

I am not sure if that is correct.

But I said it anyway, softly, under my breath.

I am lucky.

I am happy.

I am walking in the pre-Spring afternoon light on some little island in the middle of the Seine that I did not know until I was on it, was there.

I was in a movie.

No, I was in Paris.

No, I am in Paris.


I am in Paris.

Then this quiet violin trill rose into the air.

Ah, yes, thank you, I was looking for the score to my soundtrack.

I walked further and saw him, under the bridge, case open in front of him, head bowed, eyes closed in a squint, chin pressed down, he pulled the bow across the strings and the warble of the melody bounced off the roof of the bridge and spilled out in a puddle of notes at my feet as I walked past, batting my eyes at the change from light to dark as I went under the stone archway.



The song of the violin stayed with me and I walked further, coming to the end of the island I climbed up the stairs and marveled back again at the park, the trees, the sun, the violin music still slipping through the air.

My new favorite place to walk in Paris.

Discovered simply because I said, sure, I will get you back to your hotel, happy to be of service.  And I really am, glad to be a help, grateful that all those days walking and getting lost and navigating the Metro can let me be helpful to another.

Then I discovered my next newest most favorite of places, the bridge way by Metro Line 6 Passy.  It was almost too much goodness.  I kept taking photographs.  I could not stop.



The lights especially, the drops of glass, the wrought iron curlicues.

I was enamored.










Replete with my walk I hopped the Metro back to the house.

I did a quick trip to the market, did a little laundry, downloaded the photographs (I took over 100 today), did some editing on them, then left to return to meet my friend.

We connected, walked, wandered, and whiled away the evening.

It was divine.

Yes, that is you smoking Gitanes and drinking coffee in Paris, and I am so happy I get to show you my city.

It is dazzling.



Welcome, to my home.





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