I took a night train from Florence to Paris. The train ride itself was quite the adventure. The porter (?) conductor (?) chided me for not having my door locked, and I explained the the door would not lock. He said, in Italian of course, "We need a cord or something to tie it with...." and looked at me as if I might provide the needed ingredient. I told him I had not thought of such a thing when packing.
He left as if a lightbulb had gone off in his head and returned a few minutes later with a strip of torn sheet! He tried it out for size, decided it was a good fit, left again and returned with two more. He instructed me to wait a half hour, and if he had not brought two more women into the compartment by then, to go ahead and "lock" it with these three strips of bedding.
Which I did. The other women either didn't show up, or he put them in another compartment. In any case, I was alone all night. But didn't sleep much, and had to untie three strips of sheet the four or five times I had to go to the WC that night...I think knowing I wasn't securely locked in turned on my alarm system internally, or something!
By the time I arrived in Paris I was exhausted and dizzy. I was so happy to see Colette, my hostess, at the station.
My main reason for going to Paris was to spend time with Colette, who has a long-term relationship with my church. It was wonderful getting to know her and see a bit of her life and learn more about things there.
And there was some time for visiting the city, also.
My favorite part of Paris was a little church, St. Severin. I found it by accident and wound up returning to it more than once. It was quiet. It was fairly small. It had a lovely little garden outside with tulips, daffodils, and benches. In fact, I found the garden before I found the church, needing a place to eat the sandwich I had packed and brought with me.
But then I realized I was sitting next to a church and went inside. It provided such a respite from the noise of the metro, the rush of the streets, the distraction of the myriad eating places around the Latin Quarter. And it was not full of tourists. I sat next to a big pillar so that I was, I hoped, not noticeable, and actually prayed in this little church.
I say it that way because so many churches in Italy and other parts of Europe feel more like museums/gift shops than churches. In Assisi this really got to me. But St. Severin was blessedly empty, and by the posters and things I saw on the bulletin boards it felt like a church that was active as a church, which made me happy.
Paris is much larger than I realized. Much larger.
My main memories of Paris will probably by St. Severin, walking in the Bois du Boulogne (sp?), staying in Colette's house next to a small conservatory where Marcel Dupres used to teach, and lugging suitcases up and down the stairs of the metro stations.
Maybe I'll write more later about Paris. It's late now. Bon nuit.