happiness on foot

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well, it’s cold and snowy here in the north of france.  it’s been awhile since i posted, but it’s been pretty eventful here.  a couple of weeks ago, guillaume had to take a concours in lille.  that is some sort of competitive test for his work.  i decided to go with him for the three days it would take and just walk around the city.  the first night we went to the palais de beaux arts, which is the museum there.  i wasn’t overly impressed.  they did have some really cool minature models of various cities in the area and a nice collection of artifacts from the middle ages.  we joked that in 1000 years, there will be a section for iphones.  the one painting that i was happy to see was monet’s tower of london in the fog.  we got a beer at the cafe citoyen which is everything you can hope for.  it was small with cool music playing, a friendly guy who helped us with the map, and very shabby chic in decor.  i spent the next days just walking.  i started at the metro station near the palais and walked in circles, slowly moving out.  the great thing about cities in france is that they are usually based around one large building that you can see from all points, so you can always get your bearings.  there is a grand place or square and a huge opera.  there are lots of churches.  i didn’t really take the names down because i was just wandering dreamily.  i found cute little street that seem to have no purpose, and then you end up going over a cute stream and out onto a big street.  i walked as far as the military school, then found a canal so i followed it.  this led me quite by accident to the citadel, which was built by vauban for louis XIV.  i scoured the entire thing, and must admit it was tres cool.  now they have incorporated a zoo into it, but all i saw were some monkeys and ducks.  maybe a heron.  i went to the large commercial center (read: mall) to warm up and admired all the after christmas sales.  some very old french guy asked me a question which i tried to ignore, but he kept saying, pardon mademoiselle, so i just said i don’t know but in french.  he just continued talking so i looked at my watch and said bonne journee!  i don’t know why i’m always getting singled out by children and old men to chat or ask questions.   i must have a friendly face.  that weekend, we went to paris for the birthday party of a friend.  we went to a crepe restaurant and then to cafe cheri to dance.  and dance, i did!  on sunday morning, we went to a big market to get veggies for lunch and see our friend who was passing out tracts for the mayor who is running.  it was then i think i became french.  standing at a cafe in the middle of a fresh market, saying hi to people, drinking a cafe and talking about politics and the grand prix.  i felt like hemingway reincarnated.  i love europe.  i love france.  i love this life.

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