Great minds thinking alike

I collect old guide books because, well, I don’t read fiction so that doesn’t leave a whole lot else to read. Ha ha!

Usually I collect guidebooks from the 1950s – 1970s, to reminisce about how you used to be able to get a hotel room in London for a pound and a whole French dinner for 5 FF (ah, life and its mathematics were so much simpler then), but my local public library is cleaning out its stacks these days to sell the rejects for ten cents each and I happened to pick up a 2005 Frommer’s guide to Paris. I thumbed through it and became deep in thought…

I found myself really thinking, debating, hard, about whether or not I should buy this book.  FOR A DIME.

[Insert senility-denying chuckle here, with rueful smile about how if it had been anybody else fretting over the pros and cons of spending ten freaking cents I would think they were a moron.]

Take a look: the frontispiece photo ALONE is worth every penny:

While THIS picture (below) cost me about $4,000:

This is the Brasserie du Champ du Mars, a cafe near my old stomping grounds in the 7th arrondisement near the American University in Paris, also called The American Quarter because it’s where Rick Steves sends all his readers.

There I was, taking the exact same photo as Frommer’s, because I happen to like the area because I’m a Capricorn. We Capricorns can eat the exact same thing for lunch every day of our lives, we’re happiest when our wardrobe consists of uniforms, and when we go to Paris we stay in the exact same neighborhood for 30 years.

Also, if you’re as jet lagged as I am when you get to Paris, it’s nice to not have to THINK about getting your bearings: you just tell your feets to head to the Avenue Bosquet. And then you can get creeped out because there’s the same hair salon that treated you so snotty in 1977, the same newsstand where you got the Figaro the day that Princess Grace died in 1982, the  same Post Office where the the counter person blew her cigarette smoke in your face sometime in the early ’90s. Plus ca change, etc.

My photo is from the 28-day road trip that Top Cat and took through France in 2005, the one I’m busy writing about and illustrating EVEN AS WE SPEAK. And if, in 2012, you see my painting of this cafe here (where Top Cat and I would partake of our morning tea and croissants) in That Damn France Book, I just want you to know that I’d already done my illustration before I had any idea that Frommer’s was READING MY MIND.

Next time I go to France, I’m wearing my tin foil hat.

How about you — Do you have any travel habits? Favorite foreign haunts? The feeling that aliens are tapping into your brain waves?

4 comments to Great minds thinking alike

  • Deborah

    Jeeze, I wish I traveled enough to have habits & foreign haunts. My recent domestic travel experience (to Iowa City) was quite the opposite of your France experience. So much had changed, it felt like foreign travel. My husband and I wandered around the downtown, trying to find anything that had been there when we lived there. Prairie Lights Bookstore is still there (where Obama was photographed a week later). Of course we bought books, and t-shirts. As we checked out, my husband mentioned to the clerk that we still had the canvas book totes we bought there in 1985 & they are sturdier than the totes they sell today. The clerk said, “I wasn’t even alive in 1985.”

  • Rachel

    I am going to laugh until tears fall at Deborah’s story.

    As for great minds, I too do not cook and do not clean. Frozen dinners and a bit of *fixing.* If I do not USE the oven, I will never have to clean it.

    I am an aquarious, not a capricorn, but I enjoy eating the same thing for breakfast every day, and often the same lunch as well. And my favorite clothes are uniforms, although now that I have lost my job, they are uniforms of my own making.

    Today I am throwing things away. My landlord and I are working on clutter, and the nasty bugs in the kitchen. Although the kitchen is not where the clutter is. Each thing I throw out is an unborn project, idea, vision, that will never come to fruition. But they are not frutating anyway, so what is the loss? Still it is hard work.

    Wishing you peace and all joy. I am so enjoying having you back amongst us.

    Hugs, rachel

  • Jacquelyn

    For my mother’s 90th birthday today, I watched “Julie & Julia” last night. I thought it delightful….glad I could watch it having had a serious sinus attack which I imagined as an alien inserting an implant of pollen up my nose and that left me watering profusely for 3 days. Also for her birthday, I have mailed to Maman, xeroxed pages of Smithsonian, Jan. 1997 that has a wonderful story with great pictures of restoration of Chateau Sarzay. The little coincidinkie is that this 3 towered feudal castle of 14th century was a pretty close match to the water color painting of yours….and that I saw them within days of each other. Also received a copy of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” at same time….but returned it unread. Even tho set in Paris, was happy to move on to an absorbing memoir.
    So on May 7th, 33 years ago, I was sitting on the banks of the Dordogne enjoying a birthday picnic, the likes of which can only be found in France.

  • Amen to that, Jacquelyn. A lunch in France can stay with you for years and years. I had french bread, bourson ( sp) and coca cola for lunch on my first trip to France, in 1982.
    Before the trip was over, a newspaper told us Grace Kelly had been killed.
    It was magical in August. and early September.

    You can go back to the place, but never the “time”. Ahhh, France.

You must be logged in to post a comment.