His and Hers in Paris: Edith and Napoleon

The CE and I have always traveled well together. We are so lucky to share many of the same interests. However, when it comes to Napoleonic sabres, I take a snooze, and, surely, few of you will blame me, right?

Swords at the Musee de l'Armee, Paris

So I caught a few extra winks on Thursday morning while he went sabre-rattling, and then took a cab to stalk my own kind of game at Le Bon Marche, Paris’ fabled department store. This must be the French idea of a joke, because the phrase “le bon marche” supposedly means “good deal”. Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Truly funny, you clever French people, you!

Le Bon Marche: a combo of Bergdorf's and Barneys on steroids!

The sticker shock at Le Bon Marche was beyond anything I have ever experienced. If the dollar-to-Euro ratio had been in the 1920’s what it is today, Hemingway, Fitzgerald et al might have been writing in the cafes of Bali or Acapulco instead of in Paris. My apologies to you all – there will be no souvenirs coming home from Paris…

And one of my favorite authors, Edith Wharton, might have stayed put in NYC instead of coming to live on Rue Varenne. Fortunately for her, times were different then, and after my sad little moth-filled wallet and I departed Le Bon Marche, I found Edith’s address and was pleased to find a plaque commemorating her residence. No wonder, since in addition to writing The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, The Buccaneers and more, she was also awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1916 for her efforts there on behalf of refugees during WWI.

Edith Wharton (image from personal.centenary.edu)

53 Rue Varenne, the former residence of Edith Wharton

Plaque at 53 Rue Varenne

An interesting article about Edith Wharton and Paris can be found here: http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/travel/11footsteps.html?pagewanted=all, or, better yet, read the terrific biography of EW written by Hermione Lee: http://www.amazon.com/Edith-Wharton-Hermione-Lee/dp/0375400044

After the CE was sated by his sabres, we met up to pay our respects at Napoleon’s tomb beneath the grand gold dome, and then – what else – went off to a neighborhood cafe for lunch.

Small as he was, Napoleon lives large even in death.

It was another perfect Parisian morning. As Wharton said of Paris, “je l’ai dans mon sang” – “I have it in my blood”.

Moi aussi!

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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5 Responses to His and Hers in Paris: Edith and Napoleon

  1. polloplayer says:

    CE here with Traveler’s Tip #7: Getting Around

    Transportation in France is, on the surface, not greatly different than what we experience in the U.S. In Paris, the analogy is to New York, where lots of walking, subways and taxis are the options. Today’s tip shall explore the third option.

    In NYC one can pretty much step into the street, extend one’s arm at 45 degrees between horizontal and vertical and voila!, a cab is to be had. Not so in Paris where there are far fewer taxis, and these, unfortunately, are operated by angry Frenchmen. They have perfected a system whereby their light being on low, or bright, or off altogether means exactly the same thing: you will not be getting a ride today. This curious system would seem to disfavor both the cabbie and the would-be rider, but again, things are not always as they seem. You see, the pleasure visited upon the cabbie by his driving defiantly by you with a completely empty car far exceeds that which is to be had by the obtaining of a few measly Euros.

    So again, you continue to ask, where in God’s great creation is The Tip? It is this: When visiting Paris when you are sure a cab ride will be needed, bring your first born son as this is what will be needed to get that precious ride. If you are not blessed with a son, the tip is to visit another city instead.

  2. travelingmad says:

    Nice post. I learned something new. I also was upset when I heard about this ” Le Bon Marche!” How dare they name that store that?!

    I have never been inside of it and don’t plan on going. There are plenty of other little chain stores and no-name boutiques that you can really find cute clothing AND a good price.

    Looks like you’re enjoying Paris. Bon Voyage!

  3. Katherine says:

    So let’s see… if I’ve construed the last two travel tips correctly, I’ll need to borrow Marilyn AND Taylor for my next trip to Paris. I’m okay with that. Hope they are.

    Wasn’t it Napoleon who first said “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Thankfully, we get both with the pouletplayer. Yippee! Keep em coming!

  4. Ang says:

    Thomas is going to be heavy by the time I can pull off going to Paris. Better start pushing his head down to stave off growth. Oui Oui!

  5. polloamigo says:

    Thanks for the Travel Tip, CE. Maybe what you saved in cab fare would buy a sabre if they go on sale at Le Bon Marche. Was it not Napoleon who first said “Give me a good sabre to rattle as I marche.” Or something like that.

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