I've spent the morning making sure that my carry-on suitcase will still close after I've arranged 6 weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, and other oddments inside it, having spent the last few days pulling items from the closet, trying out combinations, laundering and editing out and debating the maybes. . . .
And I've spent the last few evenings skimming through all my little Moleskins and school scribblers and pages torn from old dayplanners, refreshing my memories of all our trips to Paris, savouring them and distilling them into a plan, of sorts, for this visit. What constants are now ready to be dropped from the list, what past delights had I forgotten and now am inspired to revisit, what tips will make our trip from the airport to the hotel easier, and what meals would we most like to sit down to one more time. . .
I've also been going through the Word file I make up each year -- this one labelled Paris 2013 -- which has cut-and-pasted notes from my travels through the Web and through print reading during the year. And I've been looking at the Pinterest board that I began rather belatedly and manage haphazardly, Next Trip to Paris, for inspiration I find in other blogs and on institutional websites. I don't want to miss any great Art Exhibitions or musical performances, if there's a chance we can fit them into our 3 or 4 days in Paris at either end of our trip.
At the same time, though, I'm leisurely browsing through a gorgeous book my artist friend Alison Watt gave me last year, in recognition of our mutual love of Paris. Alison also gave me the book because I'd taken her Illustrated Journal class and had great fun beginning my own very amateur illustrated log (this year, part of my trip will include taking a plein air class with Alison and her friend Kelley in the Lot area of France). It's definitely inspiring, is Paris Sketchbook, with charmingly detailed, yet still delightfully relaxed watercolour paintings by Fabrice Moireau, satisfyingly complemented by Mary Kelly's text, handwritten in pencil with entertaining and instructive notes about the history, architecture, and culture represented by each image.
As I read, a kaleidoscope of possibilities shifts in my mind's eye, and I begin to form whole days in Paris. From our hotel in the 13th, perhaps we'll wander along Mouffetard (past the fruit vendor who taught me, 5 or 6 years ago, that the word for the stem of the dates is tige) and make our way to the Institut du Monde Arabe. There, we'll be astonished anew not only at the wealth of exhibits but at the beauty of Jean Nouvel's building, particularly the intricacy of its windows, with mechanical irises that open and close in a variety of brilliant geometries to filter light and heat from the sun. We might have lunch, or at least a coffee, on the terrace there and enjoy the view of Notre Dame across the Seine. Then perhaps a stroll through the Jardin de Plantes, not very far away at all. We'd stop at the Mosque for mint tea before deciding if we wanted to cross the Seine and then make our way back via my favourite bridge, the passerelle Simone de Beauvoir before heading back to our hotel. And in keeping with the day's theme, we'd surely head across the street for a Moroccan meal of méhoui, or a tajine. . . .
We finally began to explore the 19th in 2011, discovering the more relaxed pace and more diverse demographics of Belleville. Along the way, the Canal Saint Martin, so pretty . . .
Do you, too, draw almost as much enjoyment from the planning of a trip as you do in the (let's be honest, much more stressful) travel itself?
And tell me, whether you've been or not, what might you do on your first full day in Paris? And why?
Or instead, take me on an imaginary first day in another city you (would) love to visit. . .