Our daughter, Julia, could not make it home for Christmas, so my wife and I flew to Paris to celebrate the New Year with her. We were fortunate to find a perfect, little Paris apartment on Airbnb. The flat, just steps from Rue des Martyrs, and artfully furnished by a young designer, became home base for our exploration of “The City of Light”.
My wife fell for glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, sparkling at night, from our kitchen window. I fell for our landlord’s collection of pots: some terracotta, some earthenware, some painted, a few chipped, every piece functional.
My favorite pot was a tiny, asymmetric cup with mottled green and white glaze. I suspect it was intended for espresso, but I pressed it into nightly service for sipping the smooth Rhum de la Reunion that Julia brought for me from the island in the Indian Ocean where she has been teaching English.
We hit all the obligatory tourist spots: Montmartre, Champ-Elysees, the Eiffel Tower (during the day and at night), Notre-Dame, museums, parks, and statues, statues, statues.
But when you travel anywhere with a pottery nerd, you must be prepared to spend lots of time looking at pots. My wife and daughter graciously indulged my “pot thing”, and patiently walked through room after room of ancient pottery in the Louvre while “normal” tourists swarmed the Mona Lisa.
We saw African pots at the Quai Branly Museum, huge garden pots at Versailles, and humble, vintage pots at the Paris flea market. And on one lucky day we stumbled upon A Ma Table, a fantastic shop with contemporary and vintage pottery from across the globe.The shop was always bustling with locals. I watched a woman inspect dozens of handmade pots, one at a time, before selecting a delicate pinched bowl. I realized that the French are as discerning about their tableware as they are about the food that goes on it, oh joie de vivre!
Paris was perfect: the food, the wine, the art–and the pots. I returned home with such beautiful memories, that I expected to bask in the afterglow for a long time. So it was heartbreaking to wake up on the morning we returned to news of the terrorist attacks on the city.
I just recently learned that “City of Light” or “City of Lights” is a crude English translation for Ville Lumiere, which actually means “city of enlightenment”, the model that the United States adopted for a culture of free speech and the exchange of ideas. Lets all pray that Ville Lumiere will blaze through this terrible darkness of terrorism.