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