Days like today are the reason we launched this whole Fledgling Flâneurs deal. It was lovely and romantic and special.

First, a bit of background.

Steve and I came to Paris in 1997, for our first wedding anniversary and our first international trip as husband and wife. We stayed at a sweet hotel on the Île Saint-Louis, ate croissants and drank hot chocolate one morning on a park bench in front of Notre Dame Cathedral and had a dinner so appallingly icky that it still cracks us up. My friend, Cynthia, had recommended that we dine at Nos Ancêtres les Gaulois, since it was on the same street as our hotel. The name should have been our first clue, as it means, “Our Ancestors the Gauls,” but she said she had been there and had a great time. Most unfortunately, it turned out to be an underground Parisian Medieval Times without the live horses.

Picture a dark cave with big wooden plank communal tables, mounted dead animal heads, female servers wearing Viking hooker costumes, large plates of tough meat and unlimited bad wine served from taps in barrels built into the wall.  I’d bet my life savings that no actual French person has ever eaten there. Long story short, we drank as much as we possibly could from the Two Buck Chuck taps, made friends with a couple of women from North Carolina, then went out with them for a nightcap. A good time and a wicked hangover were had by all.

Today, we got to re-trace some of our steps and look back on that first memorable trip.

We started the day by walking down to a bookstore on the Rue du Rivoli, across the street from the Tuileries gardens in the 1st arrondissement. I had reserved a book, and it was ready to be picked up. When Steve and I were in Normandy last week, we saw a David Hockney exhibit. It consists of a series of colorful landscape prints he made on his iPad while living in Normandy during the pandemic. He is now in his 80s and incredibly productive. The drawings were charming and hopeful and inspiring, and Hockney and his good friend and art critic, Martin Gayford, wrote a book about the project, called Spring Cannot be Cancelled. As soon as we got back to Paris, I tracked it down.

I got my art book and Steve bought a music book and we went to lunch at a very traditional French restaurant where everyone else appeared to be a local.  One of the guys from the bookstore was there on his lunch break. After a leisurely lunch of French comfort food and wine, we strolled through the Tuileries, then walked along the Seine to the Île de la Cité to see the rebuilding going on at the Notre Dame Cathedral (following the awful fire in 2019) and visit our old park bench, which we couldn’t get near due to the construction. From there, we went over to the Île Saint-Louis, where we stopped to enjoy a chocolate and banana crêpe on a cafe terrace and watch the world go by. After dessert, we walked down the main street on the Île, and passed by that darling little hotel we had first stayed in together 25 years ago. Alas, and mercifully, Nos Ancêtres les Gaulois was a Covid casualty. They had even added one of those hatchet-throwing rooms, naturellement, but that wasn’t enough to get them to the other side of the pandemic.

In any event, today was all about art books, gardens, gastronomie and flânerie down memory lane. Not bad for a gal from Oklahoma who married a Jersey Boy, listens to Howard Stern and likes pretty much everything on the menu at Sonic.