"Schlaraffenland", the German Arcadia.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

7 Snapshots of Europe, Spring 2014: 7. La Vie En Seine

Ok, I know the grammar is suspect, but I couldn't resist the pun. And technically we were staying "sur la Seine" rather than "en Seine", but anyway... So the end of the trip found us in Paris, on a houseboat. We rented the "Chalik", moored beside the Pont d'Austerlitz. From the bridge tourists would look down and see us enjoying a lunch of baguette, goat cheese and cheap white wine on the deck and they would smile and get their cameras out. I could see the thought bubbles floating above their heads, "Ah, those stylish Parisians, what a life!" Tourists taking pictures of other tourists. Sometimes I would give them a thin smile back and sometimes I would ignore them, haughty Parisian I had become.
The boat had some decidedly funky features, such as the lack of light in the shower - solved with a carefully placed flashlight - but by and large it was a brilliant way to live in the heart of a big city. It functioned as a kind of refuge, slightly separated from the constant tumult on land. That being said, Paris may be "The City of Light" but it is also "The City of Constant Sirens" and there was no escaping that on the water. Moreover, we were regularly subject to being swept by high intensity search lights as the dinner cruise boats passed by in the evening which would then rock the Chalik in their wake.
Those caveats aside, the location was marvelously convenient to the Metro, markets, boulangeries, patisseries, cafes, bistros - really everything one desires and expects living in Paris. We felt very in-the-know and debonair locking up our houseboat and sauntering over to the local bistro for a bite. And trying as much as possible to fit in we would use our Francaise rustique and not stoop to consulting a phrasebook before ordering random delicacies such as rognons. Red onions, right? No. Not red onions. Kidneys. Whoops. Imagine extra firm liver with a hint of urine. Back to the boat then. Back to bobbing on the Seine. Back to munching baguette and goat cheese and smugly watching les touristes watching us. Pretending to be Parisian was significantly more fun than being Parisian.


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