Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Paris Part Deux...
Paris, in all her gay abandon, sizzled.
It was warm. I did get rather hot under the collar. But I breathed her beauty in. It was heavily rose-scented, like petals can smell on a dusky evening, with a caramel top-note... Paris has generally stopped smelling of wee, after many years of trying to get it right. Her aroma is once more enchanting.
And, once I'd learned the words for walking cane/stick and crutch at the pharmacist's, we were away!
My OH's foot became sore with walking. (Sh)It happens from time to time. Particularly more so this year in the life of the Travelling Fhina. I left him en lit, while I went to scour the local traders to see if I could find a cane to help him get up and about.
Having googled the word for stick on an American tourist's travelblog, I felt able to cope with the local pharmacy in Montmartre, which was exceptionally busy. Wandering quickly past the tempting displays of products designed to keep Frenchwomen toned and souple, I spied some walking sticks. Pretty enough for me to carry about, they were festooned with more flowers than you'd see at a Church Festival. And they were scarily expensive - 'Trop cher pour moi', I intoned, to no-one in particular.
I sauntered down a back-street. It was day-time after all. Back-streets are where it is actually happening in Paris. Where all life is at. Glimpsed from a bus off the Rue de Richelieu, people go about their daily lives there, hidden from the average tourist. Here, see the children play. There the baker is open (in central Paris, in August!). Corner cafes are brimful of locals, stopping for some gossip and small beer.
All beer is small in Paris. To be savoured and sampled by the thimbleful. Vase-styled glasses of frothing ale are for tourists. Like Fhina. I wandered on, stopping only to buy two cheese salad filled baguettes to take back to sustain The English Patient.
As is the case in Paris, you don't have to go far before you find another pharmacy. There are little neighbourhoods everywhere... I lost count of the number of opticians I espied. (More about that spectacle later!)
Anyhoo, this pharmacy was quiet, just down from the Moulin Rouge. I explained to the young assistant that my husband had, among other words, '...un pied arthritique'. I'm not sure if that was the right saying, but I was going with it, in full flow, arms waving like said windmill.
I asked for, 'Une canne, svp?'
She tootled in to the back of the shop and emerged to place two packets on the counter. One was to be smoothed liberally across the foot, the other was to be sprinkled into the shoes...
I struggled on - 'He has an arthritic foot, he has difficulty walking, I need to get him a cane, not a cream...'
She looked at me like I was talking another language... To her I probably was.
'And what's the powder for?' - I couldn't help myself. Perhaps the French had discovered a cure for arthritic conditions that no other nation yet shared?
'For the athlete's foot - 'athletique', she said...
I became at that humid moment in time the Facepalm emoticon.
I mouthed 'a walking stick', and mimed it, drawing a peppermint candy cane in the air. A reassuringly young pharmacist, bespectacled (always a good sign), came to my rescue.
I know I'm from the north, but really. My accent isn't all that thick.
He emerged once more with a suitably medical looking implement, a sort of stick/crutch,showing me how to lengthen and shorten it and how my hubby should walk with it, his arm at a jaunty 45 degree angle - 'Never straight!', he chastised.
Filled with delight, but also with fear at what this was going to cost my holiday budget, I trepidatiously asked the price. He smiled and said that this particular model would cost around nineteen euros. Phew, for the cost of three large vases of blanche, I had procured a reason to return to the hotel room. At last.
With my purchases in hand, I practically whistled my way through the streets of Pigalle.
I found that anyone dodgy-looking swiftly moved out of my way on account of that cane I was brandishing.
Next episode: Finish this sentence: 'As blind as a...'