At the round bistro table on the corner, face to the street and the sun, sat a man sporting a white linen suit and vintage two-tone wing-top shoes.
His hair fell straight, white, and long from beneath his white top hat. He held a wooden walking stick in one hand and a tiny cup of coffee in the other…
Crossing the street behind him, headed for the café on the other side of the narrow cobblestoned rue, was a gentleman in a red, blue, and white plaid suit with bell-bottomed trousers…
Coming and going in all directions on both sides of the street and crisscrossing back and forth were mothers pushing baby strollers and old women pulling wheeled shopping baskets.
In addition to more than a half-dozen cafés, the midday spectacle featured, as we approached, vegetable stalls, their colorful produce overflowing from wooden crates stacked on the sidewalks…
The neighborhood florist tempting passersby with bundles of red and yellow tulips and blue and purple crocuses in clay pots…
Plus a poissonnerie offering every manner of sea creature… a bakery… a pastry shop… all busy and full of life…
Lunchtime in Montmartre.
Lief and I have arrived in Paris just in time to enjoy a taste of spring.
I don’t think our taxi driver had any idea where he was going. He took an inexplicably circuitous route from Charles de Gaulle to the city… but what did we care. In no hurry and groggy from the overnight trip, we let the scene wash over us as we traveled down the Champs-Élysées and through Place de la Concorde then along Boulevard Saint-Germain.
At every turn, more green, more color, more life… winter well and truly behind us.
We will be in this part of the world through late July. We’re planning some side trips (to Portugal for our conference in Carvoeiro next week and, early July, to Pamplona to watch the bulls run, for example), but, for the better part of the next two-and-a-half months, we’ll be hanging our hats here in the City of Light.
Years ago, when we began imagining this moment in our lives when we’d be able to come and go from Paris more flexibly (rather than according to our children’s school calendars), we invested in a second apartment in this city.
Both of our little Paris pads have been rented in the meantime… but, now that we’re able to return more regularly, we’ve taken them off the rental market so we can base ourselves in one… and use the other as a kind of office.
Working from home can be great, we’ve found when we’ve tried the idea on for size… but we prefer a regular routine that has us up and out into the world. When spending time in a place we like to have a purpose… something to do while we’re there.
I like to build things and to create… especially businesses.
So… when in Paris our daily commute will see us hopping Metro Line 12 to the stop at Abbesses.
The past few months in Panama, we’ve spent extended time at Los Islotes. Each morning there we were up with the pre-dawn light. We’d dress and eat quickly and then head to our little on-site office.
Here in Paris we awake more slowly and ease our way through the morning.
Right now this is in part thanks to the jet lag. We’re reluctant to move too quickly. Bleary-eyed and disoriented we worry about miscalculations.
However, even after the jet lag has passed, we’ll continue to take our morning at our leisure… for, while in Paris, we live two days—our Paris morning and then a Panama afternoon… which can extend into the evening.
Time zones are one thing to take into account when choosing where to base yourself as an entrepreneur or digital nomad overseas. If you’ll be living in a time zone hours apart from where your customers or clients will be based… you are the one who will have to adjust your daily routine, not them.
Mealtimes in Paris are a highlight of the day. Lunch is a real break rather than a sandwich at my desk as it too often is reduced to when I’m in the office in Panama City… and dinner is for socializing… and lingering…
Another thing I appreciate about life in Paris is its precision. This city operates according to long-established cycles. You have the season of new wine each fall… then Christmas when the city is festooned with tiny white lights… now spring… the August holidays when all Paris decamps… followed by la rentrée when everyone returns to work and a new school year…
Each day passes according to design, as well. Fresh bread each morning… an aperitif at 5… and in between other reminders of where you are.
I’ve learned, for example, to listen for the church bells.
They ring at precise hours, in churches all across the city… as they have for centuries. Used to be they called the faithful to worship. I wonder how many today listen for les matines as their morning signal to prayers…
But maybe that’s not necessarily the point.
Deeper meaning aside, for me, the reliable ringing is reassuring somehow. Comforting.
A sound of home.