Incoming: A post no one asked for, but that I want to talk about anyway. Well, very few of my posts are actually requested but this one seems particularly irrelevant to my usual content.
Which is what, exactly? I feel like I post in the study abroad page only about travels. But I don't travel that much, in fact. Well, I don't know how to quantify this. I'm not travelling as aggressively as other people I know, I guess. I'm very lucky to be here for a full year so I suppose I didn't feel the rush that others do. Besides, I was, and still am, incredibly eager to experience life in Paris in full. So I wanted to talk about something a bit new, for a change. Something I adore. This post will be a refreshingly sweet and intimate one: A look at one of the quiet moments of my Parisian life.
Just about everyone is familiar with Paris' tangible beauty: The buildings, the baguettes, the boats, the bars. But in my mind, it is not really these things that crystallize this beauty, but rather, the little, barely perceptible cultural and interpersonal facets of daily life, away from the madness. I've probably mentioned some of them before: Someone running to catch a bus, parents teaching nursery rhymes to their kids at brunch, the rows of crossed legs on the café terrasses for a morning coffee, the amount of time spent greeting every person met with two bises. And my personal favorite: The art of Sunday mornings. And given that today is a Sunday, and that I've had one of the most cliché mornings to date, I will describe it in considerable detail.
This morning I woke up to the sound of rain at 5. I couldn't sleep, so I watched a movie: Suite Française with Michelle Williams (she's incredible) and Matthias Schoenaerts (so talented and handsome, wow). It was a long one so lasted about until the sun started to rise and the rain subsided. I then brushed my teeth, threw some clothes and loafers on, and got ready to hit my favorite market.
Sunday mornings are quiet in Paris. It appears to me that no one aside from the elderly really emerges until at least 10, hence why all restaurants open at this time. So the streets were quiet and grey on this gloomy morning. But it was bustling at the market! It takes me about seven minutes to walk there, located in a square. I usually have a large canvas tote, a red cotton net bag and cash ready in hand.
The French markets are an international fascination... Or at least to Americans, I think. They are their own institution, which makes them all the more wonderful and intimidating. It took me a lot of time to learn how to navigate them... what to say, what the vocabulary is, what's in season, which vendors I prefer, how much I need (what is a gram...?).
But I forced myself to go nearly every Sunday and at least observe. I learn every time I go. I can confidently say that I can successfully navigate the market and the interactions there with complete ease, but with changing seasons comes changing produce and therefore changing vocabulary. Like this morning, for example, I learned how to say "handful" and how to indicate how many stalks of rhubarb that I wanted (une poignée, and x tiges de rhubarbe, svp, respectively). There are about 5 stands at this market that I have started to frequent: A cheese stand, a meat stand, two produce stands, and an orchard stand. I don't know anyone by name yet but I have started to exchange greetings with the same vendors. By the end of this trip, both arms and bags are overflowing with goods... it's a very funny, picturesque feeling. I typically end up walking back to my apartment with something like a baguette shooting out from under my left arm, a leek from under my right, and a bouquet of flowers cradled in my arms.
And sometimes I'll stop at a boulangerie along the way home, since my seven minute walk has me running into at least 4 of them. This morning I bought a chocolate and almond croissant, which is delicious but I couldn't even bring myself to eat the whole thing because the sweetness was overwhelming (words I NEVER thought I'd say...). And I occasionally will buy either a traditional baguette or I'll experiment with different breads, but I've also tried to cut down on my bread consumption so I don't always do this anymore. Feeding just one person is a bit difficult considering how quickly the baguettes go stale.
And then I go back to my apartment to drop all this lovely stuff off. It's a nice, calm walk, shoulders weighed down. Today, I put everything away then immediately starfished my bed, but usually I will start cooking some food with my new haul (you have to use them fast because, I repeat, everything perishes quicker here).
Since today is gloomy and I have a final due tomorrow, I will stay inside. But if it were any given Sunday, I normally would end my extended Sunday morning (meaning mid-to-late afternoon) to meet friends for a tea or a museum visit (since they're just about the only things open on Sundays).
And there you have it. A little coup-de-coeur for me. One could choose to stay in bed all Sunday morning, but they'd be missing out on some really charming bits of French life that I find so unique, and that I will be greatly missing when I leave.