There are over fifty countries in Africa and we know for a fact that one of them doesn’t want us. But there’s fifty more to choose from and a one week respite in Paris seems the perfect segue from Morocco to, ah, whichever country lets us in.
So all along the Seine, we fancied ourselves writers and artists in bookshops and cafes, strolling the sculpture gardens of Rodin’s Hôtel Biron studios, browsing galleries, and partaking an afternoon carafe of wine to relieve the feet and bemuse embassy bureaucracies. In the evenings we spilled out over the flat with a bottle of wine, three expats, in league with dreams of travel and language. So good to see an old friend.
Several times a day, we climbed seven flights of stairs to a hall of small studio flats, rooftops overlooking rooftops. Years ago these were the servants quarters, accessed thru a door at the back of the inner courtyard. Today, it was our haven and we became excessively familiar with the creak of every winding step as the elevator was reserved for residents and only accessible thru the central courtyard of the main building and not our backdoor.
Much to our amusement, we discovered that if you left the flat, descended the seven flights, and went looking for a patisserie, a right instead of a left took you straight to the Pigalle district’s signature landmark, the Moulin Rouge. It was an honest mistake, but suddenly, going for a pastry took on a whole new, wonderful red-light meaning. I offered to go on a croissant run at least once a day.
Au revoir, James Claxton. When I think of you, I will think of stairs. Seven spiraling flights worth.