Sunday, 27 September 2009


Brrrrr, brisk chilly birthday morning, cycling to rue Cler and - watch out, everyone's on wheels! An 8-year-old surfs down the sidewalk like a pro, a couple of 6-year-olds cross the street kicking their trottinettes, there are a couple of little girls on pink plastic bicycles struggling to navigate the market crowd, and of course a toddler in her plastic push-me tricycle. The velibs, strollers and shopping "chariots", we're mixing it all up with pedestrians, dogs and fruit stands.

There is even a circle of poussettes in audience around the organ grinder, parents pulling in to park their toddlers in front of him while he plays La Vie en Rose.

Tribeca's patio heaters are thankfully on so I take a table in the front row, wait for the sun to come around. Oops, here comes the rinse water down the gutter, swirling around our bags on the pavement. After warning the mom next to me, she/Isabelle and her daughter/Tiphaine start chatting, and we discover we both want to master Italian, wish we could afford to buy a big Paris apartment, and love the city but appreciate the country. 

Ended up meeting her distinguished father, and then a handful of her friends who pulled up chairs to describe the Vie en Rose party they'd thrown last night in Versailles - which included a ride out in a pink stretch limo. Sounded like fun but nowhere near as enjoyable as sharing my own birthday fete with my special circle of friends. Yep, a year older, lots of exciting challenges, and I am  grateful-issimmo to have such incredible friends along for the ride. Turn, turn, turn.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tourist care & feeding

There's a sort of look that tourists have, that distinguishes them from the locals. It's not the guidebooks or matching red windbreakers or comfy running shoes, but more a sort of self-conscious dis-engagement, looking at the storefronts, glancing at passers-by, discreetly scoping out places to sit or not at Tribeca, hoping not to be noticed. We all know the feeling, I do it myself even in Rome, my foster home.
So when a father and his son sat down at the next table and started nervously translating the menu out loud, it felt callous not to pull them into the comfort of the cafe chatter, even in English. And hey, I was charmed that they couldn't pick out my American accent. And they shared a good story about how once the head of Airbus unexpectedly gave them a personal tour around the Toulouse factory.
They left and I basked in the sun. Although summer is getting blown away by brisk gusts of chilly autumn air, the rays were still July-hot, and families were out for a stroll and a shop. Tribeca's sunny front-line tables were all claimed by 11h, and the terrace was full by noon. That's when I left, wound my bike through crowds, past the cheery organ-grinder and the competing soulful Peruvian pipes, and back to the ACP to train folks to be tour guides at the American Church, for next week's Journee du Patrimoine.
Yes, taking care of the tourists! Wish me good karma when I next hit the Eternal City.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Really the rentrée

"Always late but worth the wait". Sitting at Tribeca this morning, I kept noticing t-shirts, not so much for the sayings on them as for the fact that so many women wore nothing beneath them. Not just t-shirts, of course, there were also plunging necklines with freckled cleavage, a bouncy black-striped balcony that passed by in profile, pointy bits under a grey knit dress - you get the idea. Guess everyone felt like stretching the summer mood into this final sunny weekend.

Sunny it was, too, bright, colourful - and after the summer calm, noisy! Vendors were clamouring, kids chattering, dogs barking and whining, the accordion-player in front of the fruit stand competing with the guitarist near the cheese shop. And lucky me, the rentrée brought friends to share breakfast this morning: Aldo back from Sardinia, pulling up on his bicycle, elegant even without his usual bow tie; Brendan recuperating from his urban holidays and touring China with son Sean; and Tara in for a week from London, looking graceful and healthy despite her feasting cruise around the Greek islands.

So what's up for the fresh new season? Let's see, besides fixing my kitchen, I aim to formalise my fitness business, get citizenship and buy an apartment, before Christmas. Ambitious? As Tribeca manager, La Chef, said, "it's great to be back in Paris, we're all full of joy and lightness after the holidays. I give it 15 days." Wait and see.