Je suis arrivé.
Back in France for the sixth consecutive autumn.
Five nights in Paris. Five nights in Marseille. Ten nights in Toulouse. And then the final two nights to be determined.
I flew on the home team airline out of Newark Wednesday night. It was my first ride on the new Boeing 787-10. The flight was full but I slipped on. The gate agent offered a choice: a window seat in coach – or a middle seat in “economy plus.” I opted for the window in row 38.
It turned out to be the wrong decision.
Just after I sat down, a guy twice my size sat next to me in the middle. He wasted no time getting his widebody frame comfortable. I was willing to concede the armrest but I would quickly lose four to six additional inches of my own space to his fidgety elbow and man-spreading leg.
The body contact from a stranger kind of ruined the flight but what are you gonna do. No use stewing. I’m on vacation. It’s just six hours in the air. I watched Capernaum after they served a pretty weak but-always-tasty-because-you’re-on-a-plane chicken teriyaki and white rice dish followed by a mango sorbet. Capernaum was amazing.
The line for passport control at Charles de Gaulle is always a cluster. It’s an automatic hour plus but there’s no rush to go to the city at that time anyway.
I’m staying at an Ibis property in the 13th. It’s a bit far from the main action but there’s a market I like in the neighborhood and I know my around here. The free breakfast is solid. They have a machine that makes fresh-squeezed orange juice, great coffee and mini pain au chocolate.
Just before I left New York, I learned that my reservation for the hotel in Marseille had been cancelled. I’m still going back and forth with the hotel about restoring my stay but it has added a bit of unexpected drama to my well-laid plans.
I was only out a couple of hours on Thursday night but it’s great to be back here. The pulse is fast. The bicycle revolution is growing here – and is way ahead of where NYC is from what I can tell. The weather forecast is a bit gloomy but typical for this time of year.
Out of the blue on Thursday, my favorite French band En Attendant Ana announced they’re performing at a benefit gig Friday night up near Porte d’Aubervilliers. I’m hoping to get there to see them.