Paris Diaries: Tea and Harmony in Paris
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Back when I used to date Rasputin (no, not the crazy Russian performance artist, the crazy Russian novelist), he told me that whenever a woman goes to Paris, she gets her period. Considering that this man also thought I was one of the descendants of the Lost World of Atlantis I took his claim with the seriousness I thought it warranted, which is to say none at all.

The following day I woke up to discover that in addition to the flu, which had now turned my brain into a giant ball of mucus overnight, that my period had decided to be impatient. Furthermore the radical flux of hormones had brought me to the jagged edge of a migraine. Although I had planned to go to Notre Dame and the Blvd St. Michel, I decided that today should be spent yet again investigating the local area. That way if my migraine fully blossomed, I could easily make my way back to the hotel for a nap.

I made my way to a couple of shops, trying things on, and buying onea or two little things in particular a cashmere sweater with a skull and cross bones on the back in silver. The brand was "Rebel Cashmere" and the slogan, proudly blazoned on the tag was "it's just a fucking cashmere." I thought for the slogan alone I had to buy the sweater. By noon, I was feeling weak, and my head was pounding. I bought a sandwich and made my way back to the hotel. Unfortunately my room had not yet been visited by housekeeping. Rather than taking a nap only to be disturbed in the midst of it by a maid, I decided to venture out yet again.

My guidebook claimed that St. Honore Fauborg is "great" for shopping. This might be true if one walks much farther down than I did. To me, it seemed like I walked quite far without seeing too much in the way of shopping with the exception of some antique bookstores, which while interesting, were closed.(In retrospect, this probably saved me from blowing a wad of euros on some fabulous antique edition of a book I could never hope to read.) After walking by several closed furniture stores on what seemed like an abandoned street, I turned around and decided that I would take tea at Mariage Freres.

Should you find yourself on a Saturday afternoon in January by the Champs Elysees pondering how to spend an hour or two, Mariage Freres is the place to go. The perfume of tea fills the place, while Jimmy Scott and Nina Simone singing softly over the sound system. The waiters are all meticulously dressed in white, and the tables are set with the signature white ceramic Mariage Freres sugar bowls and plates. I was seated quickly at a table and ordered a pot of Earl Grey French Bleu and a dessert called the Little Sahara.

The pot of tea arrived quickly and the perfume of bergamot cut with "blue flowers" cut through my cold giving me, for the first time in days, a sense of clarity and wakefulness. The dessert arrived-it was composed of three small parts: a petite wedge of tea infused cheesecake, a scoop of ice cream with a crunchy praline topping, and a flan with a tea glaze. And while the advil I had popped had no effect on my migraine or cramps, I found that the melting deliciousness of the dessert and the soothing sound of jazz managed to restore me. And again I found myself feeling that everything was as it should be for Mariage Freres creates such an overpowering sense of harmony that it restores one's faith that there is an order and intelligence to the universe. Surely, I thought, there should be some sort of government fund to send women to Paris. I'm sure that the need for zoloft and prozac would radically diminish with liberal doses of tea infused cheesecake and fine quality tea in a pleasant environment.

Unfortunately, the moment I was back on the street my migraine returned with a vengance. I found myself barely able to make my way to the hotel room. I set my alarm for 7, allowing myself three hours of sleep, and awoke to find the migraine now blinding in its ferocity. I took some more advil and went back to sleep. At nine I found myself a bit better, but now starving. I decided I would get food at the closest, easiest place, which ended up being a restaurant called Hippopotamus. If you remember this post, you will remember that the only English word that the Sauvage thought was beautiful was "Hippopotamus." I hadn't thought to wonder how he would know such a word until I saw the sign for the restaurant, a popular chain in Paris. It's kind of like the Parisian version of TGIF, only without the "flair" or any of the other cheesiness. Essentially, it's French fast food served in a low key restaurant environment. I actually liked it much better than the fancy place I ate the night before. The waitress was very friendly, and the food, including the goat cheese salad, was tasty.

While eating dinner, I felt guilty about how little I've done. I hadn't even left the quartier yet and I was almost half way done with my trip. On the other hand, the ghost of my migraine is still present enough to remind me I had little choice about how to spend today. Furthermore, I assure myself it's far more of Paris than I would have seen with the Sauvage. Still it's a Saturday night, and the girls on are on their way to the clubs in their short skirts and high heeled boots. They walk arm in arm-chatting animatedly with each other. I feel like I should be doing more, pushing myself harder, but my temples occasionally throb. Rather than waste another day in bed with a migraine, I decide to go home early and rest.

On my way back to the hotel, I pass a few smokers huddled by the opening of the restaurant quickly puffing away, a sight that gives me a moment of levity as I imagine the Sauvage huddled outside of some bar in Frehel lighting his cigarette and cursing the American girl who left him behind.

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