Tuesday, January 3, 2012


In his book The Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, writes about his return to Paris after some months away from the city: "When we came back to Paris it was clear and cold and lovely. The city had accommodated itself to winter…Our own apartment was warm and cheerful." 

When we got back to Paris on New Year's morning of 2012, it was cloudy and warm. The city was as always lovely, but it looked a bit bedraggled in the aftermath of New Year's Eve. 

We welcomed in the New Year, as we have the last few years, in a plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Last year, the airline crew wore festive hats and at the stroke of midnight New York time, blew horns and rattled noisemakers. This year, there was just an announcement from the cockpit and some scattered applause from the passengers. 

Our plane was full, but Americans were decidedly absent. Normally, that would make for a quieter ride since the French tend to speak more softly than Americans. It a lesson that takes a while to learn, however, and the French baby a couple of rows behind us definitely had not yet mastered the skill. As she cried and screamed for five hours straight, everyone took refuge beneath their head phones. That and the fact that airline regulations now forbid "loitering" in the aisles or galleys, meant that we made no new friends on this flight. Instead, we watched "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen's nostalgic homage to the City of Light (which has made me view Hemingway in a whole new way).  

We landed at Charles deGaulle airport in the dark of early morning and Terminal 1, which looks like a set for the 1960s animated show "The Jetsons," was wreathed in lights. As we waited for our bags to arrive, the couple with the screaming baby walked by. The child had finally and mercifully fallen asleep - too late for for us, but a godsend for the parents.  

Taxis were plentiful, but I prefer the RER train. It's an easy transfer from the terminal to the train station and, as is the custom on New Year's Eve and Day, the trains into Paris were free. It was still dark, but, nonetheless, there were small, fleeting vignettes of life to be seen from the train window. At one stop, I saw a couple obviously engaged in a heated argument. The bad end to their New Year's Eve came when, at the last minute, she pushed him away and jumped on to the train, leaving him sullenly looking at her through the window of the closed door. At another station, a heavily-tattooed, metal-bedecked young man getting off the train, gently helped an old woman get on, and then turned and went on his way. 

It was just beginning to get light when we arrived in Paris. The streets were deserted except for the sanitation trucks, manned by those perhaps under appreciated-workers, who every morning transform a littered and dirty city into a sparkling gem. Their task looked particularly arduous on this first day of the year.

As we walked along, a few more people appeared heading for the cafes and bakeries just beginning to open up and down the streets. We joined them, bought a baguette and headed for our apartment.  It was warm and cheerful.  

Another year in Paris has begun.  I can't wait to see what it brings.

A bientôt,

Photos by Geraldine Calisti Kaylor


  1. Ah! What a lovely piece. I felt like I was there (and made me wish I were).....E.

  2. Great blog. And I read the hemingway link. M.M

  3. Great blog post!!! We wish you a lovely beginning of the new year in Paris!!! A.P.

  4. What a beautiful prologue to your Paris stay. I do live there vicariously through your blog. C.

  5. I love Paris and your observation of the gentleman helping the lady on the train is my experience of that lovely city. Paris is filled with kind, helpful people. The more cities I visit, the more I realise how amazing Paris is. Happy new year!

  6. I, too, was touched by the man helping the woman on the train. Wonderful descriptions of the beginnings of your great adventure, Geraldine! The apartment is beautiful! Happy New Year--enjoy your time in Paris!

  7. New light on Hemingway. I read his First Forty-nine srories in the context of a visit I made to Key West and Havana. Parody-proneness aside, he is a master of the genre. Some of the best stories I know. M.K.


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