Of course, this title is a quote from the famous film Casablanca a 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. In a pivotal scene Ilsa (Bergman) refuses to board the plane to Lisbon with Victor Laszlo (Henreid), her husband, a hero of the Resistance. Rick Blaine (Bogart), the dark American whom she secretly loves, urges her to do her duty and tells her, as a final argument “We’ll always have Paris”.
It was about four years ago when we returned from Portugal with plans to return to France the next Spring. But, then along came Covid, and everything changed.
For a while, like most everyone else, the only travel would be the trips to the grocery store, or to a restaurant to pickup a take-away meal for us and some neighbors. Mask wearing was de rigueur, as was, for a time, gloves, and the wiping down of everything before it was placed in the pantry.
Later, we did local day trips, along with a few longer trips to:
- Franklin and Hendersonville, North Carolina
- A family reunion at Panama City Beach, Florida
- A couple of weeks in Chattanooga, Tennessee before a wedding in Nolensville, Tennessee
- A wedding in Austin, Texas
- Christmas in Savannah Georgia
- Cocoa, Florida 48th anniversary trip
- A family gathering St Augustine, Florida
- A friends and family visit to Providence, R.I. and the Boston, Massachusetts area
- Three weeks in the Finger Lakes region, staying in Canandaigua, NY
- A major birthday celebration in Vero Beach
So, there were many good trips to be taken despite Covid. And we did.
In the meantime, my knees began to develop arthritis that inhibited my desire to walk the kind of miles we were used to. After many consultations and much deliberation, we decided that since the knees would only get worse, and non-invasive alternatives were only temporary, it was time for knee surgery.
Fortunately, I was an excellent candidate for a partial knee replacement (PKR) which was less invasive and had a quicker recovery time. So, in January ’22, and October ’22, I had surgery on both knees, respectively. The healing and recovery went quickly and without complications. By February ’23 I was able to climb six flights of stairs, or hike five miles.
Thus remobilized, we felt it was time to pick up where we left off, and planning for our previous trip to the Loire Valley in France began anew.
We weren’t sure how much things may have been changed by Covid, the Ukrainian war, or the global economic crisis, etc. so, we had our concerns, but our enthusiasm for going was greater than any worries. So we booked our travel and accomodations, and a new adventure began.
For the first week, we are in Paris. Ah, Paris. Our fascination with European culture is still strong and Paris is filled with old-world culture.
Then, there are the strikes and protests leaving parts of the city streets piled high with bags of garbage due to a garbage collection and incineration worker strike, and the transportation workers are striking as well so sometimes the trains, Metro, and busses might not be running, and very large, nightly protests make traversing certain areas risky. And of course, the weather forecast was for cold and wet the entire time.
After an interminable flight, we checked into our apartment near the St. Martin Canal and after a two hour nap we went out to clear our heads of the fog of air travel. We saw no piles of garbage in the St. Martin/Marais area of town we were in (independent garbage collection service versus public), no protests near enough to cause us any worries although we could see/hear some significant activity not too far away, and since we stayed close to our Parisian “home”, we walked, not needing public transportation, and the while weather was quite chilly, there was no rain … yet.
After a little shopping (cheese, bread, and a few other things), we stopped for a dinner of a Breton-style galette, a crepe made with buckwheat flour usually with a savory filling, and traditionally accompanied by a pitcher of cidre (cider with 3-5% alcohol). Just right. Then we turned in early and slept the sleep of a filled-tummy traveler for at least ten hours.
The following day began, again quite chilly, but for the moment, no rain. After some Tomme cheese on a piece of baguette, and an espresso we were ready to begin our stroll to the Picasso Museum. Along the way, we needed another bite before the museum, so we stopped at a café for another espresso and croissant for me and a café noisette and pain au chocolat for Jeannie. By the way, café noisette means hazelnut coffee, but not for the flavor, but rather the color as it is merely an regular espresso with a small splash of hot milk.
We arrived at the Picasso Museum well-fortified for the visit. On our first visit to Paris, many years ago, we went to this museum but it was undergoing an expansion and renovation, so it was very different than we remembered with the exception of some iconic works such as the famous “Tête de taureau” or Bull’s head made from a rusty bicycle handlebars and seat found by Picasso in a junk yard in 1942. Picasso was a remarkable artist in so many media.
Afterwards, we made our way to the Seine, and over to Notre Dame cathedral on the Île de la Cité that was terribly damaged by fire 15 April 2019. The cathedral burned for over 15 hours. It is scheduled for reopening in 2024.
From there, we wandered on the Left Bank of the Seine, then worked our way to a lunch of moules et Frites (mussels and fries) for me, and a quiche and salad for Jeannie, then home. Later this evening we will go out for some wine and charcuterie.
Tomorrow is supposed to be a really big protest/strike day so, again we will stay close by to home. But still, it is Paris, and we’ll always have Paris.
All of these images in this post were made with my Android phone, as I didn’t take out the big Canon due to the the possibility of rain.