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Arriving at 2 Rue Pecquay:

March 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

When I arrived at the home of Joe Plaskett at 2 Rue Pecquay, Paris, I was feeling pretty tired and a bit bewildered.
It seemed like a long time since I had gotten on the plane in Ottawa.
As I stepped from the taxi and took my bags , I could feel rain falling on my face...just a gentle rain, but it was very hot and humid too. I stood there on the sidewalk looking around me to see where Joe's house was. “Are you Blair?”, I heard a woman's voice say.
Was I hearing things? I felt like Dr. Livingston being met in the jungles of Africa....”Dr. Livingston I presume”. I glanced around and saw a woman looking at me and holding a newspaper over her head to keep the rain off.

Yes I am”, I said, “and who are you?” “My name is Cleo and I'm a friend of Joe's. He asked me to meet you here because the guy who was supposed to let you in has gone off for the weekend and won't be back until Sunday evening”. “Oh”, I said “that changes things a bit then for sure”. “Don't worry, we can go for a coffee, and then get you a nice, inexpensive hotel to stay in until Sunday evening. Does that sound OK?” she said. “Sure, that'll be fine...let's go”, I said.

We walked just up to the corner of Rue Pecquay and Rue Rambuteau to a quiet little cafe and went inside. My bags were heavy to carry and pull so I was glad to set them down. “Will this be OK?” asked Cleo. “Sure, this is great”, I said, “and thanks so much for meeting me, otherwise I would have been very confused.” “You are welcome”, said Cleo “Joe called me to make sure I was here as he was worried what you might think when you found his door locked.” “Well I would have been surprised, that's for sure”, I said as we settled into our chairs and ordered two coffees.

So you are from Ottawa”, said Cleo. “That's right”, I said, “and you have lived in Paris for a long time have you?” “I was actually born here, but then my parents moved to New York when I was very young and that's where I grew up. I went to school there, got married to a difficult art dealer, didn't like it, and escaped back to Paris about 20 years ago”. “I wondered”, I said, “because your English is perfect”. “I have an old friend living in Montreal”, she said,”Do you know the city very well?” “No, not really,” I said, I just take work to a gallery there and that's about all I know of the city...but it is a beautiful place”.

The coffee came and we continued to chat and sip the delicious dark brew. “This will wake me up”, I said, “It's been a very long day since I left Canada!” “You must be exhausted”, she said with a smile. “I really and truly am”, I said, “But a good night's sleep will fix that”. “There are lots of good, clean little hotels around here so we will have no trouble finding you a place to stay”, Cleo said. “Where do you live?” I asked. “I have a little third floor walk up apartment in Montmartre...nothing fancy but it's all I can afford, and I have everything I need there”. “Sounds fine”, I said, “who needs fancy anyway?”

Montmartre is an artistic district in Paris, isn't it?” I said. “Oh yes,” said Cleo, “Artists like Dali, Picasso, Van Gogh, Modigliani and numerous others had studios there. It was a wild place at the turn of the century; not a touristy area like it is now.

The famous Moulin Rouge is there and is still entertaining people just as it did long ago. I like to live there because it's high up, looks over Paris, and the air is better. In the summer it's cooler than down here in the Marais district where Joe lives. You noticed how humid it is I guess.” “Yes, I sure did...just like Ottawa in July...I'm surprised,” I said.

Most Parisiens leave Paris in the summer for holidays in Brittany or Normandy...it's so much cooler there. They are lucky,” said Cleo, “But I love it here too! After you get rested, I'll meet you in Montmartre and show you around if you'd like”. “I would like that very much!”, I said as we finished our coffees.

Tomorrow is another day in the adventure, and I was looking forward to it!


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Blair T. Paul

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