Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Paris: Touring and Shopping Before Taillevent


After a night filled with the glories of Burgundian food and wine and late hour Calvados drinking, I had to get moving earlier than usual Thursday morning for a very important meeting.  A tete a tete.  If, that is, you can have a tete a tete with a person you have not met before.  I was heading to a cafe on the Rue Soufflot near the Pantheon to meet a young woman I would recognize only by her long red hair.  As she put it in an email, I could not miss noticing her because red hair stands out in Paris.  She was certainly right. I recognized her immediately as she strolled toward my outdoor table and gave me a bright grin...

Before my readers think my day was turning strongly toward the louche, a bit of background may be in order.

About a month before my departure for Paris, I was having cocktails in celebration of my birthday with one of my best pals and his daughter.  These two are multi-generational Epic material without question.  They arrived at the bar already pretty well aglow from another event. The best sort of pals.  I have referred to dad before in these annals as Streak.  He calls his grad student daughter LuLu. I don't know if she likes that or not.  In any event, the upcoming trip to Paris was discussed in detail. At some point, LuLu asked if I would mind her giving my contact information to a friend of hers who was going to school in Paris, just in case I needed anything while I was there. I thought the idea a sound one. The voyageur never knows when he will be in need of a medical referral, posting of bail, or some other essential.  When I arrived in France I was armed with the email address and cell number for AH and we had made a date to meet after she finished her term exams so she could show me around the Latin Quarter from the student/resident perspective. The day was one of the best times of my trip.

We hit it off right away as AH is a delightful young woman, well travelled and fluent in French.  We had a wonderful morning as she showed me around her Paris.  The very first place we visited was the church of Saint Etienne Du Mont, near by the Pantheon.  This was quite a thrill for me since it is a very beautiful church...


...but it is also the site of the steps where Owen Wilson's character is picked up by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda in the vintage limousine in Midnight In Paris...


...since as I have related before, Midnight In Paris was the genesis of my trip, seeing the steps was a special treat.  We also accidentally wandered by another M.I.P. location...


...the Duluc detective agency that Wilson's awful putative father in law visits in order to hire a spy.  I actually did not recognize this sign from the movie until after I returned home, I just took the photo because the sign looked so cool and Bogartian.  In any event, AH and I went by Laduree for a bag of macarons which we ate while sitting on the Pont des Arts [the first photo above shows them just before consumption!]...


My favorite was the pistachio/violet macaron. We went to the Place des Voges looking for Catherine Deneuve.  She didn't appear but it is a lovely place to sit...


We saw some very odd store windows... 



One or two classic galleries...


...some really great vintage shops...


Fountains and plazas...


Stylish recycling bins...


And the craziest public toilet I have ever seen...


...totally Star Trek.  When you get inside this thing the door slides shut behind you.  You fear that some form of launching is imminent. After you are finished, a voice tells you to wash your hands and the water starts running in the sink!  Then the door slides open and you leave.  The door closes after you exit and the entire inside of the hut is subjected to some form of steaming or cleansing.  In any event, these things are a great invention.  They work perfectly, are sparkling clean, and are a mile above the "portapotties" you see in the U.S.  I got a good laugh out of my guide when I said the toilet reminded me of the "orgasmatron" in Woody Allen's classic movie "Sleeper". 

After all this excitement and adventure, we realized it was time for lunch and I treated my new friend to a bottle of Bordeaux and roasted duck at the cafe with the green awning shown below in the Marais district...


I had a light lunch of a salad and an excellent omelet aux fines herbs.  This was necessary because I had a nine p.m. dinner reservation that evening at Taillevent and I was anticipating an Edwardian feed.  Over luncheon talk of exams, careers, marriage and children, I asked AH if she could help me on a special mission.  Being a true Epic, she was immediately intrigued.  As I explained the details, she became more and more interested in the project...

This was my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary year.  Since I have known the Irish Redhead, she has wanted a modestly sized quilted black leather Chanel purse.  I vowed to myself that I was not coming back from Paris without one.  Being a romantic, I wanted a vintage one, something a Parisian lady of the 1960's would have carried.  The Marais and its extensive collection of vintage boutiques was just the spot to search.  AH was to play the role of the spoiled young woman.  My role was as the bored older fellow paying the bill.  Stoked with very good wine and a long lunch we strolled the Marais and eventually found the perfect shop displaying several vintage Chanel purses in the window. We pushed open the shop door and encountered the young man who was apparently the proprietor. 

It didn't seem strange to the shop owner that a 53 year old man would come into the shop with a well dressed, attractive 25 year old woman.  Odd.  In any event, this was a really great little store, crammed front to back with vintage designer gowns and accessories.  AH wandered the single aisle poking a finger at a dress or two.  I gazed disinterestedly out the window.  Eventually, AH asked in her fluent French for a purse from the window which was not the one she knew I wanted.  The fellow procured the decoy purse and she looked at it with disdain.  A very rapid exchange in French followed which from its tone seemed centered around how insulted my friend was to have been presented with such an item.  AH finally stopped speaking and stared at the man, then fluttered her fingers in a gesture that could only mean she wanted the offending purse removed from her sight for all time.  I tell you, this young woman was GOOD.  If her career in international relations doesn't suit her for whatever reason, she has a fine career on the stage to fall back upon.  Eventually, she gave out a deep sigh and summoned the man again.  Another exchange in French brought her the purse I had my eye on.  The shopkeeper seemed much more wary of AH by now.  Smart guy.  He was probably thinking of the line from the movie The Quiet Man: "that red hair is no lie".  Another barrage of French, too fast for me to understand.  AH seemingly weary and losing interest.  The owner retreated to the rear of the store.  I turned to hear the verdict.  AH whispered "this is authentic and it is PERFECT.  It can't have been used very much.  If he has the Chanel registration card for it, this is the one."  The card was produced and haggling ensued.  We left the shop, the ultimate Parisian gift in hand.

This all happened in April.  My plan was to keep the purse under wraps until our anniversary in September.  When I got home, I walked into the house and immediately handed it to the I.R., who gave an uncharacteristic squeal. She was beside herself with glee.       

6 comments:

Suburban Princess said...

Awwww well done! I've played the spoiled younger woman, it's loads of fun - Tho never en francais!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and wish you all the best for 2013!

Ben said...

Fantastic! What an adventure. It's always good to have a skilled and game partner at things like this!

M.Lane said...

Princess, thanks and the same to you!!

Ben, I hope you had a great Christmas. Yes, indeed.

Thanks for the comments!

ML

CashmereLibrarian said...

YOU DA MAN! And such a great story behind and amazing gift. Lucky IR!

M.Lane said...

Cashmere, thanks for the comment!! Its nice to hear from you. STILL the best blogger name of all time...

ML

NEW Communications said...

We were in Paris a few weeks after your visit, staying at the Parc St. Severin, a block form the Cluny. To my delight, we saw a wine bottle recycling container lifted up by a truck and emptied, bottoms down, into the truck. I also used - for the first time - a public restroom in Paris. Thanks for enlightening me about Owen Wilson's pickup point! I knew it had to be near the Pantheon, but somehow did not make the connection!