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From Paris, With Love: Meeting the Scotts

A French friend of mine once told me that I had an old soul beneath the young countenance. Rejean Fontaine, whom I had met at a birthday party several years ago, said he saw it in my eyes, hence I attracted older people. Trust that pick-up line from a charming French man but when I look back today, Rejean was probably right. Most of my friends (Rejean included) are older people, if not senior citizens, and I love them all. I'm particularly fond of senior citizens -there is something about them that's endearing. I love listening to them, to their stories of the past and present, even if they forget and repeat them a few times over.

So befrending the Scotts during the second day of our holiday in Paris was a pleasure indeed. My husband and I bumped into the elderly Welsh couple while on a L' Open Tour bus (hop-on hop-off), which took us to the North of the city. Angela and Alistair had been on the Orient Express from London earlier, and they were spending three days in Paris. It was easy to be around the couple. They were chatty, funny, and unpretentious, and I immediately took a liking to them. Waiting for the L'Open tour buses got us talking more as the buses were not  on time, unlike tours of the same kind by the Big Bus Tour in London and Dubai that have buses making stops at every 10 or 15 mins despite the city traffic.


Alistair, Angela and I
The Scotts used to run a bakery before they retired in the recent years.
"We used to work for them Carrefour before we started our bakery," said Alistair as he pointed out at the French hypermarket when we passed by it.
Angela has been a vegetarian for over 40 years, but Alistair's been loving his meat just the same.     
"Pork chop and vegetables, I'd go for the pork of course," he said, with a lit Malboro between his fingers. 
But vegetarian food could be tasty too, Angela added.  
"It's in the spices. Flavour the greens. When I invite people over, I cook as many vegetarian dishes. People are skeptical at first, but they go back knowing that vegetables can be tasty too," she says. 
Travelling as a vegetarian in a city like Paris, however, was a challenge for Angela. She recounted an incident when the couple had dined at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower the day before.
"I asked for a vegetarian meal, they prepped up some eggplant and charged me something like 40 Euros for it, and they told me that they're doing me a favour by cooking it," said Angela. She was horrified, truly.
40 Euros for some aubergines?
I agree it's too much but when you make a reservation at the restaurant, which is 123m above ground, up in one of world's iconic structures, they do warn you of a 400 Euro cancellation fee. I don't blame the restaurant, but I also see Angela's point.

Our little time together took us to the white church on the hill - Sacre-Coeur De Montmarte. It wasn't in my plans, but we went along with the Scotts. The hill of Montmartre is 129m above sea-level, so you can imagine the walk up the hill. Optionally, you can also take the tram for a minimal fee, which was what we did.
"I want Alistair to see this beautiful church. There are a few places that I want him to experience," said Angela, who had been to Paris when she was much younger. The present trip was to share the beauty of Paris with her husband.

The White Church
Montmarte signifies the 'mount of martrys' as it was the place of martydom of Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris and his companions in the late 3rd century. It was also the place where Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francois -Xavier founded the Soceity of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1534.  Its architecture, like every building of its standard in Paris is awesome, but I think the real beauty of it is in the location. The great, white church overlooks the city, offering a magnificent view of Paris in blocks of white civilisation. It's really inspiring to just be there, with wind on your face.

"There are some nice cafes and a place where artists gather at the back of the church, just around the corner," Angela pointed out after helping us take a photo with the city as background.


The View
Ten minutes later, we were greeted by colourful canvases with the respective artists behind them. Beautiful pieces on sale, all under a cloudless blue sky. Some original, some not. But there were con artists too. They slithered with French charms, and before we knew it, we had pieces of our portraits being shoved into our hands. All this happened within 2 minutes! At this point, we still had the chance to refuse and walk away, but we wanted to be smiling when we left the place, so we bought them through forced smiles. What the hell. We were on a holiday anyway. The silhouette paper-cutting of me had Jolie lips, Monroe hair and my nose. Since he was bald, my husband's silhouette looked very much like A -Team's Mr. T.

Artists and Works

"10 euros for this. It doesn't even look like Alistair," complained Angela.
That was a discounted price by the way. The price board behind the artists said 20 Euros for each piece.
We left the church area, and got onto the hop-on bus after a wait that seemed forever. The Scotts and us spoke more about the city, and the cities where we come from. The couple was heading North East for more sight-seeing when my husband and I hopped off at the Hard Rock Cafe for a late lunch. A kiss, hug and exchange of contact numbers and addresses, we left while Alistair took photos of us exiting the bus and entering the cafe.
"Please visit us when you're in Cardiff anytime and keep in touch," they said.


Comments

  1. Ah Paris... there's nowhere quite like it

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a portrait from Monmarte too.

    ReplyDelete

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