Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Home Away From Home

The link is to just one of the many Bistros in the neighborhood on Rue Commerce in the 15th near the Eiffel Tower, which is my new home away from home. No, I have never been to the top of the Tower, but everyday I see it when I walk around and even when miles away I can see it, so I can always find my way home as it is a beacon. And the Champs de Mars is a wonderful place to walk around in warm weather with grass and benches and is popular with children, bike riders, tourists and young lovers, I have been told. You can even pick up souvenirs there if you wish. Cincinnati is a great small town but for some reason I am drawn back to Paris and this neighborhood. Not sure if it's the strange currency, the wonderful food, the quirky language or the love of life.

The 15th is not a tourist destination but rather a neighborhood where Parisians live. Except for the Tower and the River and a little statue that looks a lot like the Statue of Liberty, there isn't much to 'see', but if you live there you will find everything you need. Shops for cheese, wine, meats, chocolate, ice cream, hardware, stereos, rugs, milk, bread, and a Farmers Market under the Metro line. And there are at least 4 stations in my neighborhood so you can travel throughout the City in less than 30 minutes for $2. And many places to eat and after 5 trips in one year I have barely scratched the surface for places to dine, but have also had many wonderful meals at home too. Because it is not just a place to visit, it is also a place to live.

Apartments are not cheap but life is rich. The 15th is not one of the 'hot' neighborhoods so there is value here and a history and everything you want, so you don't need to travel far, once you make the short 8 hour flight from CVG to CDG. Then you can relax and start living. And if you need some cream for you coffee or a fresh baguette for breakfast baked fresh that morning, you slide outside, walk two blocks and practice your new language, "Je voudrais une baguette et une tarte aux framboises, SVP." Because I always try to come back with more than what's on the list. It gets noticed. And is appreciated.

Le Cafe du Commerce (not Le Commerce Cafe, which is fine for a quick cafe and breakfast) is a classic, old world Restaurant on three levels with standard food. I don't dine there often, but they will sell you beautiful oysters to-go from Normandy with names like Omaha and Utah Beach, which resonates on a different level for us Americans. They will shuck them for you and give you one to taste as you wait while thinking of the American sacrifices on those beaches 65 years ago. You can taste the brine of the salt water as these oysters were pulled from the cold Channel waters the day before. You taste the ocean and think back 65 years and make a note that you must visit there and see the beaches yourself and give thanks for the bounty. And the sacrifice. It is only a few hours away by the TGV, so you make a promise to go.

So, if you are in the neighborhood, stop in and I will show you around, but my French is weak and I am a newcomer. People have lived here for thousands of years and will no doubt for many more. But I am beginning to learn my way around my new home and I can show you the many sights and sounds and smells and tastes that keep drawing me back here. And fair warning, it will draw you back also.