Two nights ago, a friend arrived from London for a one-night stay. We had previously met at a hostel in Rome and spent time there seeing the sites together. She has been in the enviable position to take a year out of life and travel around the world. I admire her at the same time that I am extremely jealous. It was wonderful to hear of all things she’s done, people she’s met and places she’s seen. Especially the Camino de Santiago. After her stories, walking it myself has been duly noted on my life list – somewhere near the top.
I met her at the train station and, after dropping her things off at my place, we went in search of food – something warm, cheap and filling. As has become my tradition, I took her to L’As du Fallafel. This take out fallafel counter is one of three or four similar places on the Rue des Rosiers in Le Marais, and it will be one of the places I miss the most when I leave this area. Routinely touted as the best fallafel in Paris (which actually has some pretty stiff competition), the cool pitas filled with layers of fresh fallafel, red cabbage, cucumbers, grilled eggplant, hummous, tahini and topped with picant (harissa – optional and really not that hot) are absolutely delicious, and easily a complete meal. Sorry for a lack of photographic evidence, we were too hungry to stop for photos – but they are forthcoming!
We grabbed a fork, several napkins and took our pockets of tasty goodness for a short walk down to the Seine, as dusk settled over the city. To our pleasure and surprise, we found a small jazz quartet set up at the end of the pedestrian-only Pont Saint-Louis, the bridge connecting Ile Saint-Louis to its larger, better known sister, Ile de la Cite. We grabbed a piece of curb, sat and listened to the music while we finished our dinner. The four men were well into their 70s and were singing jazz standards from the 20’s and 30’s, successfully channeling Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, just with a little less croon.
Also set up on the bridge were 10-15 volunteers giving free 10-minute massages. From what I could decipher this was all done in the name of good health and a relaxed end to the summer. After ensuring that none of my falafel went to waste, I went ahead and took my seat, closed my eyes and received an excellent back-rub from a kind woman who encouraged me to seek more professional help for my shoulders – something worth looking into with all of the computer work I’ve been doing lately.
As the night grew, we noticed the half-moon rising behind us, and the illumination of Notre Dame providing the perfect backdrop to a quintessential Paris evening. When the band announced their 15-minute break, we decided to move on, walking slowly along the river, back home – extremely satisfied.