The Paris Dairy Ch.1: Bonsoir Paris
Such a cliché title, I know. It was December 29, just days away from New Years Eve, and we travelled to the beautiful city of love by train from Frankfurt. I had planned to play Edith Piaf’s “Paris” song on loop the whole 4 hours ride till my feet would set on the Parisian concrete floor, but got caught up with reading Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online.
What I initially wanted to do once I arrived was to step out of the train and sing “Bonjour Paris!” at the top of my lungs. The only issue was that the train was delayed 1 ½ hours and my mother and I were exhausted and somehow our suitcases for 4 nights in Paris weighed more than when we came with to Germany from Kuwait. My mom packed in three big water bottles, a long electrical cord for our chargers, hair dryers, lots of chocolate (just in case, there’s always need for chocolate) and we each packed in extra coats (again, just in case we need to be extra fancy).
But anyway, in Paris we arrived and I was waiting for the Paris magic to blow me off my feet but I was greeted with slightly rude pushy people. My mother and I, slightly disoriented, struggled to balance our suitcases and purses and paper bags filled with German pastries (which we bought at the Frankfurt train station) and people walked with such pointed speed past us we had to match their pace and direction even though we had no idea where the taxi stand was. And no surprise here, we ended up going in the wrong direction. When we finally did manage to find the taxi line and get into one, we ended up with a hot-tempered Algerian man who hated Muslims and believed they were all horrible terrorists. Fantastic. And my mother had to disagree with him, when it literally was just her and I in a city where no one knows us. My mind went pretty far, of course. I pictured him stalking us and shooting us dead the next day. Thankfully, the conversation was steered to something jolly. The beautiful lights and Christmas decorations distracted my mother and she and Nasser, which was his name by the way, managed to have a light-hearted conversation about the beautiful lights and the still ongoing Christmas market and how my mother visited Paris often when she was young. She would talk with him French, infused with a little bit of German and English and Arabic. We managed to all understand each other though.
When we finally arrived at Hotel MacMahon we dumped our stuff in our first room (which we changed immediately to a much better one*) and headed out to the wonderfully lit Champs Elyseés. As tired as we were, the streets and the people and the wonderful weather all wrapped me up in the sweetness of it all. Mostly, seeing my mother smile nostalgically at every café she visited with her father (Allah yerhama*) and her sisters and my grandmother and hearing her reminisce about the ‘gold old days’ when they were all much younger and happier (I should have been offended by the happier bit, but she immediately caught what she said and corrected herself) and watching her face glow made me feel that this short trip was above and beyond worth it all.
We walked passed Fouquet’s, which according to my mother was my grandfather’s (Allah yerhama) favourite café. He even had a table there way back then. All of them would sit there and all these high profile men from embassies and the ministry joined him and they would sit for hours chatting up.
And there was Pizza Pino of course. I recall my mother talking about this restaurant for as long as I can remember every time she talked about her younger years and the le trois soeure (Mother and her two younger sisters) and their Pomeranian Pino (which I can now assuredly assume she named after the restaurant) and so we went there. There was a long line to get it, as there was for most cafes and restaurants there. I’ve noticed this in Champs Elysees a lot. But the line moved fast and we got in pretty quick and they seated us next to two old ladies, sisters, who I distinctly heard talk in what sounded like German. Turns out I was wrong. However, and this is an interesting history lesson, the two of them were little girls back in WW2 and they DID know German and apparently the school in the place they lived in was forced to teach the French children German. Interesting, huh? I don’t know why I found that so fascinating. I sat there listening to them talk and searched their old faces for the features they might have had when they were younger. It made me appreciate the present time. It also made me see the sad realization that their generation was an almost extinct one.
We had a beautiful conversation with the two ladies, and our dinner was worth a tummy full and a long ‘mmmmmmmm’ and we headed back to the room my mom called the “Hooker Room” (don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad. Turns out the architect had poor taste. Google the hotel and see for yourself) with the view of nothing but walls outside and hoped for a better room and a beautiful Paris the next morning.
Bonne Nuit Paris ❤
*This information is vital. Especially with New Years Eve. You’ll know why soon xx