Thursday, January 06, 2005

Could It Be Magic?

Musée de la Curiosité et de la Magie, 11, rue Saint Paul, 4me arr.

It was cold, it was rainy, it was grey--but it was also Paris and, at last, my dream come true.

The flight from Cincinnati had been direct and uneventful. My seatmate was a French teacher from Cleveland named Mary. She regaled me with stories of her days as an exchange student in France, the most memorable of which involved the question of whether the confiture contained preservatifs (condoms!) ;-). (I suppose that was still better than ordering poison when one really wanted poisson!) I was glad to have such an amiable companion. Conversation distracted me from the vast expanse of water below and when talk waned I studied my trusty Virgin Guide to Paris or tried to sleep. I was relieved to know that my friend Jef was going to be at Charles de Gaulle to meet me and shepherd me safely to my hotel.

When the plane finally landed and we debarked, I was surprised to find that we were still far from the terminal and were entering a strange bus, seemingly on stilts! Once everyone was crammed inside, the bus was miraculously lowered to the ground and proceeded on to the terminal exit. After clearing customs and picking up my bag, I saw Jef, wearing a dapper Borsalino hat, patiently waiting on the other side of the divider glass.

After dropping off my bags at the Hotel Beaumarchais on the rue Oberkampf, we took off on a walking tour of the district. Jef was a knowledgable and enthusiastic guide, taking the time to explain a brief history of the Cirque d'Hiver as we passed by on our way to the rue de Turenne and the Marais. Jef drew my attention to the beautiful facades of the buildings and, pointed out the ones with huge double doors, tall and heavy, leading into courtyards. He said it was always worthwhile to try the door and see if it was open for often there were interesting and unusual things to be found inside.