It's D-day weekend; here, that's "Jour j." President Bush came to visit. The headline of one Paris newspaper was, "The Longest Weekend." However, most of the snide comments I hear about the president and our Iraq policy come from ex-pats. You run into them at Fish, a restaurant on Rue de Seine, and in the Village Voice, a terrific English-language bookstore on Rue Princess (both on the Left Bank). Regardless of what I think about the war in Iraq, I get a little weary of hearing Americans here run it down. French people are far more discreet; they enter into conversations about the war with great hesitation.
Totally unrelated to that, I went to an Iyengar yoga class near the Etoile this morning. It lasted two hours and was actually quite good. (I'm a snob because before I left I practiced in L.A., the epicenter of contemporary yoga, as far as I'm concerned.) The teacher, however, had all the gentleness of a drill sergeant; she shook her finger at a guy in the back and spoke sharply to me when I stood by the wall instead of trying to do a posture. Absolutely nothing about the final meditation was relaxing and -- can you believe it? -- no one said "namaste." The French seem to understand the mechanics but not the spiritual aspirations of yoga. Don't know whether I'll go back. But yoga's good for you, no matter what.
That was reinforced when I fell down the stairs in the Mabillon Metro. It was my fault. I was wearing city-slicker high heels, which caught on the cuff of my blue jeans. A woman in front of me broke my fall and asked if she could help. Fortunately, I got up with no broken bones, just a mass of cuts and bruises on my shins. I credit my avoidance of serious injury to limberness derived from yoga. The shoes are a whole different problem. One needs to be safe and comfortable walking around this city. But all the French women wear these gorgeous, sexy shoes, so you feel stupid if you go out in clodhoppers.
Some people say that it's more terrible being lonely in Paris than in any other city. I wonder if that's true. I've been too busy for loneliness and my sister is coming to visit next week, so I'll have good company.
Joan of L.A. wants to know how the quality of life in the less touristy districts of Paris compares to that in L.A. It's hard for me to say because I live in the 7th. But people say that things are tougher out around the Peripherique. More dog do and trash on the streets, no DSL for your computer. On the other hand, groceries are cheaper.
And Bill of Pasadena wonders about Parisian Laundromats. My apartment came with a washer-dryer; it took me some time to figure out how to make it work. It takes forever to do a handful of clothes. And the dry cleaner here -- le pressing -- is ridiculously expensive. I picked up a black silk shirt the other day from my neighborhood place. The tab was about $15. Much washing of delicates is going on in my bathroom sink.
That's all, except for one last word. Paris is about as lovely as it gets right now, in early summer, on the cusp of the busiest tourist season. Can you come now? It would be a good thing for your soul.