And so, apartment found, Kate left for Russia and Greg left for work, leaving me to my new full time job of tourist. I gave it a pretty good go in my first few weeks seeing Montmartre, Shakespeare and Co, the Opera House, the d'Orsay, as well as Galleries Layfayette and Les Printemps, amongst other things.
A highlight was on our second weekend, when my Aunt and her beloved came to visit. Linda moved to London a few years ago and was coming with Phillipe to Paris for a Valentine's weekend. It was so lovely to see familiar faces....and to speak English! (I'd been challenging myself to go out daily and complete an everyday task -bank, grocery store, post office- in French). Phillipe took us outside of Paris to Champtigny where a Valentines dinner dance was being held. He explained that these places evolved when poor country people could not afford to go into Paris for weekend entertainment; instead they entertained themselves with their friends, cheap food and drink, rowing and dancing along the river on lazy weekends. Traditionally, music was supplied by an accordion and we were not dissapointed in this regard (although we avoided the rowing due to the -7 C temperature!). The room was decorated with colored lights, the tables with checked clothes; the food was plentiful and the crowd lively. I've never seen such enthusiastic dancing, without regard for who was watching, or how one looked. Everything was enjoyed: the bonhomie emanating from the room warmed the cold night. Linda and Phillipe performed the java, a complicated traditional dance and we just tried to keep up! It was a lovely, warm introduction to French life.