Three Weeks in Europe: Paris Is Oh, So Parisian!

In Spring of 2006, travel journalist Sue Frause spent three weeks in Europe. Her travels took her to Paris, Brugge, Hamburg, Berlin and Dusseldorf. Over the next few months she’ll be sharing her thoughts and photographs about the people and places she met along the way…

PARIS — Although I’m a travel writer, I seldom bring along my laptop. It’s much easier to use a good old-fashioned notebook.

Preferably a Moleskine.

For two centuries Moleskine (mol-a-skeen’-a) has been the chosen notebook of artists, writers, intellectuals and travelers. From artists Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh to writers Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin, the serious black book made by Modo & Modo in Italy has been their bible. Inside, there’s a place to record your name and address. You can also indicate how much a reward will be given if returned (I sprung for $100 US).

There’s nothing worse than losing your words on the road.

Moleskines are portable and they ooze with personality. Plus, you don’t have to worry about spilling your cafe au lait on them while lusting over a pain au chocolate at a Parisian cafe. All those coffee stains and food droppings seem to season one’s words nicely.

So here I am in Paris with my Moleskine and my French Recife pen tucked away in my backpack. I’m traveling with my friend Sandy, and we’re looking forward to a week of eating, walking, drinking, shopping and sometimes sleeping.

April in Paris is beautiful. I’d been here before, but during the horrific crowds of August; the darkness of January; and the heat of an early September.

Springtime in Paris is soft…even the people seem softer.

Well, except for the overgrown garçon at the front desk of the Hotel Minerve. He still had frost hanging from his heart.

My friend Sandy and I were booked into Hotel Minerve for just one night, planning to spend the bulk of our week in the enchanting Marais district on the Right Bank. And a good decision it was.

Not only was my room at the Minerve small enough to welcome un petit enfant, the shower was barely wide enough for my middle-aged ass to fit through the flimsy glass-like doors. Even worse was the fact I couldn’t extend my arms to do a proper shampoo.

But back to Grouchy Garçon. Sandy explained to him that she wanted to cancel a one-night booking she had made for the following week (I won’t go into detail on why she thought she had to return to the Latin Quarter after being in the Marais).

Grouchy Garçon replied that since she originally made the reservation on the Internet, she would have to cancel it on the Internet.

“But I don’t have access to a computer!” said Sandy.

“Then you’ll have to go to an Internet cafe and e-mail me,” said Grouchy Garçon, tapping his pen impatiently on the desk.

At this point, a tri-color of blue, white and red started waving in front of me. I jumped into the fray.

“You’re saying that even though you are right here at the front desk, my friend can’t cancel her reservation in person, but in fact has to find an Internet cafe and pay to e-mail you her cancellation? That’s insane!”

My insanity plea worked.

Grouchy Garçon relented, asked Sandy for her passport and numerous signatures, and she was at last released from her reservation.

USA – 1
France – 0

On to the Marais!

Posted by Sue Frause on September 13, 2006 in Travel

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