Sometimes great days are nothing more than the sum of small things, the conglomeration of lots of little good moments. Often I find that is the case with some of my favorite days in Paris. They are the little details that are impossible to repeat, the moments that I hope tourists stumble upon, the moments that make Paris seem perfect. I think my first such moment was when I came to Paris about 8 years ago. It was about to storm and we were walking through the Palais Royal, the wind picking up and the sky turning that exciting dark grey. As the first drops started to fall, we ducked into the colonnade and there a lady stood singing in a long silk dress. The wind and rain, the song, and the moment of perfect beauty brought tears to my eyes, and I was not the only one.
Yesterday I had one of those perfect days, full of little shining moments. After a long run in Luxembourg (after which I did not go to the boulangerie, lesson learned) and leisurely morning, I spent all afternoon at the Louvre, first attending an amazing art history lecture then spending the afternoon sketching one of the new exhibits. I never get tired of the Louvre, never lose the thrill of seeing things that I have studied for years hanging before my eyes. Doing master copies is always a humbling experience. Later that afternoon I showed one of the little girls my drawing offering the apology that it wasn’t near as good as the original (which happened to be a Dutch wood cut – very hard to replicate). She offered the very French response of “Évidemment” which is kind of like “no duh,” to put it in nineties English. But that didn’t stop her from offering the very earnest compliments that only 4th graders can give. But just having the privilege of attempting to make a master copy is thrilling because it implies close proximity with the masters.
After the Louvre, I treated myself to my favorite post-Louvre treat, which is a fraisier, one of my favorite pastries, and there is a little boulangerie near the Louvre that makes the best ones. On my way there I had a wonderfully childish moment watching a man make enormous bubbles in the street. Who doesn’t return to a childlike state when there are giant bubbles? Sitting in the sunny stone courtyard of the Louvre, eating my fraisier while strains of Vivaldi echoed from a nearby street musician, I felt the perfection of the moment. The fact that some Parisians made fun of me for my pre-eating photo shoot of my pastry could not dampen my happiness. When they asked if I was going to eat it, I shot them an icy “Évidemment!”