Notre Dame is Burning

Paris Burning?

 

Flames on Notre Dame… No …

But there they are…

The  roof alight — they say it’s wood.  Tower crumbles,

Painful sight, 

My heart weeps, thinking about a thousand years 

 of music, wars, tears, and worship.  

All in flames.  

How is the grand organ — 

its moving  music silenced now?  

The chairs, their woven seats, 

The Hangings, candles, golden vessels — 

Will all be ash tomorrow?  

Will the walls stay standing?  

It shakes the soul to its foundation 

Losing what may seem like

 it has always been

And so must always be.  

Paris, standing tall forever…  till now.  

 

I will mourn 

And look for joyous resurrection 

Bolstered by hearts 

United all around the world 

In loving human legacy and power—

In one Spirit, One appreciation—

Symbolizing Peace to come. 

We are in fact one people and one world— One Heart, One Love.  One.  

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What Would you do…

Learning the Truth

Paris, April 9, 2019 

What would you do differently if you learned that…

There is no reality outside of what you think and feel?

You need connection with others to create something together that all can experience? 

Inevitably, as an observer, you change what you are observing? 

Rules only work because you accept them? 

Nothing happens until you energize it with your desires?  

Your only limitations are the things you believe or don’t believe?  

What WOULD you do differently?  

Time to do it — You’ve just learned the Truth!  

Reflection

In quantum reality, everything is relative.  We create our own reality. Opposite realities are completely possible, based on different peoples’ expectations and beliefs.  One of the most telling examples I’ve ever seen is what’s happening in France around hemp, now that it’s recently been deregulated. French culture prizes sensory delights, and taste is a central value in France.  

Non-THC hemp has recently been deregulated in France, as in other countries. A new craze or fad has resulted.  CBD shops are proliferating, promoting the delightful, amazing  gourmet FLAVOR  of hemp!  

Just coming from the USA, where hemp is all about its medicinal properties, I’m finding the French take on hemp surreal.  And as I learn more about quantum reality — corresponding to the metaphysical  universe found in the teachings of Unity— Truth IS surreal.  Surreal Truth, where human beliefs  create experience and all experiences are possible, is where we need to learn to evolve spiritually. 

In this reality only our limiting beliefs keep us limited. 

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Paris April 2019

For the first time, we’ve returned to Paris in less than 5 months, so-it all still seems familiar.  I‘Ve also been studying Paul Levy on Quantum Reality.  Strange,, for the first time I’m realizing that it’s possible to be aware in two places at the same time— kinda surreal!

 

Poem : Paris, April 5, 2019

Being in two places!  

It’s possible!  

I always think it’s not, but it is, in consciousness if not in body.  

I’m aware  in two places, interweaving here and there—

I’m Still there at time for lunch, as I finish dinner,

Still thinking in English as I also speak in French, 

And feeling in my nighttime dream as if suspended somewhere in between where I’ve left and where I have arrived — 

No longer there but not yet here.  

I feel familiar comforts of both “home” and “also home” where I know what’s beyond each next corner, 

As if here last night — six months ago as well.  

Should I call it “quantum travel?”  

 

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Channeling Rip Van Winkle – in Paris

Paris le Samedi 6 0ctobre 2018.

Enfin!  Nous voila a Paris!

 

This year, arriving in Paris from the US has a Rip Van Winkle feeling to it. First, there’s the fog and sleepiness of jet lag. It’s hard to “get the eyes opposite the holes,” as our group of friends used to say when I was a student here in the early 1960s.  Attacks of somnolence come on all morning (early moring hours at home), even if we did get up at 8:30 Paris time and eat breakfast and go out for a walk.  And spending the first day knocked out and sick from a gluten episode on the plane from an allegedly “gluten free” meal didn’t help!  You’d think the dietitians at a major airline would know that barley contains just as much gluten as wheat!

Then there ‘s the question of what has changed here in a year. New styles – everyone is now wearing bright colored sneakers; new ways of getting around – the Velib’ bike rental stands are empty, perhaps because all the bikes are in use though we haven’t seen any. Instead, what we see in the streets are adult-sized bright green electric scooters that are GPS tracked, so it’s possible to just leave them on the sidewalk when one gets off without risk of losing them. And moving apartments from one little section of the Latin Quarter to another yields new views, further distance from former favorite stores and delightful new proximity to others.  I received a fabulous surprise yesterday morning when I walked out our new front door and discovered myself directly across the street from a side entrance to one of the biggest and best health food stores in Paris – Bio-Coop — which formerly was a bit too far away to patronize then lug home bottles of this and that on foot. But now, to find a regular grocery store, we will need to take the bus to the corner store we patronized in the other neighborhood, which is still the grocery closest to us.

We are now much closer to a hub with 6 different bus lines, including the two that passed through our former neighborhood – making it easier to take buses to go directly just about everywhere.  We are to meet a Unity Licensed teacher later this afternoon.  She figured out a spot to meet that’s about halfway between us, and voila! – one of our now nearby buses goes directly there, halfway across Paris.

One of our errands our first day here was to go to the now nearby Metro station and purchase our monthly transport pass that allows us to take any kind of public transportation day or night as often as we want without further charge.  It’s a real “Open Sesame” to fabulous mobility throughout the Parisian region – including the suburbs. Monet’s Gardens in  Giverny?  Yup, Free.  The palace in Versailles?  Also free. The new multi-cultural center on the northern edge of Paris?  Free.  Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, Tuileries Garden?  All free. It’s a glorious freedom to be able to go everywhere whenever we want, starting with a bus that leaves from 200 feet from our door.

Over the years, we’ve shopped all over the Latin Quarter, so the stores right around the corner from our new place are delightfully familiar – old friends. I guess this is why, on this fifth annual trip here, it feels important to start building friendships and finding groups to participate in.  We need to populate our French lives with relationships.

It will soon be time to leave for our first bus adventure of this trip.  It’s 8:30 am  in the US – even though we’ve eaten breakfast and lunch, we’re finally (2:30 pm in Paris) !  You can just call us “Rips” as we venture forth to a new day!

 

 

 

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Appreciating Lots of Things Including Feet!

Appreciating Feet!  Monday October 9 2017

This trip has been a lesson in how important it is to have working feet!  Being in a large city like Paris brings this necessity into high relief.  Doing anything or going anywhere for a relaxed afternoon of visiting, shopping, exploring, looking, listening, or eating and drinking  seems to involve walking for 1.5 to 2 miles, judging by Nancy’s Fitbit and its reliable data recording. This is our average walking distance when  we are using public transportation to get around.

I guess I’ve always taken feet for granted, even though mine are often troublesome and painful and have, all my life, rebelled against shoes.

This episode of the epic infected toe is the first time I’ve actually had to count every step in considering whether to do something and what the consequences might be.

We were scheduled today for a visit to the Centre Georges Pompidou, where several interesting exhibits are scheduled this year at this time. We were planning to meet friends there, to enjoy a couple of shows and a meal together.

But during the night and when I woke up, the wound on my toe seemed more painful than it had previously. It seemed imperative to do something about it, in light of the fact that I’m going to have to fly back to the US on Thursday – in three days. Airports require a LOT of standing and walking.

I hadn’t previously been aware of “Urgent Care” in Paris, as opposed to the doctors making house calls (SOS Medecins) or the hospital emergency rooms.  But I googled to see if it exists, and indeed the idea has started to be implemented here.  Good!  This is hardly a life threatening emergency in this age of antibiotics – though as little as 76 years ago, it could well have caused a fatal case of blood poisoning.  One of my little research projects  in studying French history in Missouri led me on a memorable detour perusing death certificates from the 1860s in Washington County, and discovering that an amazing number of people of all ages died a few weeks after sustaining slight wounds to their feet or lower legs. As I think about it, I really appreciate having been born in the age of antibiotics — just barely — and to have had a long, healthy life as a result. If penicillin had not just become at least somewhat available to the public (it was first used to cure an ordinary person in 1941), I would have died of pneumonia in 1942, as a toddler.

As I thought about it, I hadn’t seen any changes in my toe this morning. I didn’t figure that urgent care doctors would be able to tell me any more than I already knew and was doing, thanks to the doctor who had made the house call last week and prescribed antibiotics.  What I really needed was a pair of shoes that didn’t rub that toe and make it worse every time I took a step, and a pair of fuzzy slippers so that I could keep my feet warm while in the apartment. I’m grateful that I was guided to change my thinking from seeking a medical solution to finding a more practical outcome.

October in Paris is beautiful, but the weather is starting to cool off a bit, and the 19th century building where our apartment is has cold, uninsulated floors, even though the electric baseboard heaters do a nice job heating the air. My feet have been like icicles, and I’m sure that with icy feet, my circulation must be pretty slow, rather than vigorously helping the wound to heal.

I need to say at this point that I’ve (of course) been using Unity spiritual tools to envision and facilitate a successful change for the better. I’ve spent time meditating, centering, simply envisioning a healed, whole toe, and affirming the love and wholeness that gives me life. One axiom of affirmative prayer is that we choose the outcome, and turn the means by which it happens over to the Universe. This leads to some interesting surprises as envisioned outcomes happen in ways totally different than one might ever have thought.

It’s Monday, and a lot of shoe stores are closed, so I was having trouble figuring out where I might find a shoe store with comfortable, non – irritating shoes. Plus, my feet are very long and narrow. I have always had trouble finding shoes that fit in the US – how would I find any here? I was very tempted to not go anywhere.

On the other hand, finding shoes that wouldn’t rub that toe – maybe something like Birkenstock sandals — would probably not cost a whole lot more than the clinic visit, and would probably address the problem more directly. Not knowing where to look but in the interests of doing something, I found online a shoe store that was open on Monday on the Boulevard St. Michel, fairly accessible to the apartment.  We figured we’d take the bus, see what we could find, and then end up at our favorite department store, BHV, on the right bank by the Hotel de Ville (City Hall).  The shoe store didn’t have anything that looked promising, and the available clerk wasn’t very interested in our request, so we forged ahead to BHV, which proved to have a very extensive selection of different brands and types of shoes.

We both looked in different areas of the shoe department, and Nancy found a section with Mephisto shoes.  I had never considered these shoes before, because of their very high price in the US. My consciousness of lack had led me to simply avoid considering them. But now, as a result of praying, I was just following where circumstances led. I was also curious now because a friend of ours had said a couple of days previously that he had finally found relief from persistent foot problems when he started wearing Mephisto shoes. So I was ready to suspend my previous beliefs, at least a little.

I explained the problem to the sales clerk who clearly specialized in this one brand, and he brought out two different styles. I tried them on.  Nancy had told me these shoes work really well for long narrow feet, and wow!  Was she right!  I have never in my life, going all the way back to early childhood when I ended up wearing special orthopedic shoes, found shoes that were really comfortable. Suddenly my feet felt made for shoes, rather than feeling like they were alien extremities destined never to fit into anything that I could then actually walk in. I’ve always felt like the ugly stepsisters in the Cinderella story trying to fit into the glass slipper.   I discovered today that I must have French feet!

We were flabbergasted to find that in France in general and at BHV in particular, where a good sale was going on, the prices are  about two- thirds less  than what the same shoes cost in the US – they were actually less expensive than many good US brands cost at home. What a wonderful example of an apparent coincidence that was the result of prayer and willingness to respond in the moment!

I hadn’t felt terribly optimistic about finding sandals in Paris in October, when winter is fast approaching. Posters on walls and in stores are all about winter and being ready for it, and winter is a big deal at this northern latitude. Indeed we didn’t find any sandals – and no one offered any hope that we would.  But what we found is so much better!  Real shoes that fit!  Who would think that we might be so lucky?  I feel truly blessed and guided.  And the amount we saved by finding these shoes here in Paris paid for a nice chunk of airfare —   a big deal!

When we left the store, I could actually walk freely and easily, without any pain, and with no pressure on the sore area, which I’m pretty sure was caused in the first place by walking around the city in the shoes I had been wearing since arriving here, which, when push comes to shove, are obviously too short and wide. This was a good lesson in being sure that the footwear I bring with me on a foreign trip will support a lot of walking without causing any problems with my feet!

I am so happy that I can once again think about where we would like to go and feel that we can get there and back, no matter how hard the bus stop is to find, how many different places we have to try to find what we’re looking for, or how long the walk might be from where we get off the bus to the destination we’re seeking or to the connecting bus line.

On the way home, we passed by a different store that had lots of warm fuzzy slippers, and I bought a pair, so now, at home, my feet are even warm.  Heaven!  I plan to write myself a note to remind me that next year we need to pack warm slippers and a hot water bottle, and we need to plan to buy more fabulous French shoes when we come back to Paris.

Posted in Feet and shoes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Parisian Sunday Spirit

Sunday Spirit

Sunday in Paris is special.  One sees a lightheartedness, a disposition to play, that is not visible on regular days.

Traffic is seriously diminished for one thing. People are strolling, often in family groups or in couples. Every other day (including Saturday), we  see children being walked home from school by their mamans.. Those walks are clearly purposeful,  even if the duo stop off at a patisserie for a four o’clock snack. Way back when, the snack was often a slice of baguette and a couple of squares of dark chocolate, referred to as “the four o’clock.”

I don’t know if bakery treats were always a part of upscale Parisian weekdays, as I experienced this tradition in smaller towns and in the country.  However, we have seen a fair number of bakery visits on these walks home from school.

Sunday walks are different, though.  On Sunday, it’s common to see a schoolchild enjoying breakfast or brunch in a café with a father, for instance. All you can eat, for the child. Or it’s very common to see a family with a little one in a pram, and possibly one or two older siblings along for the walk – everyone walking together, Dad often carrying or pushing the little one.

Sunday’s also a day when people take dogs for a stroll. It seems overall that there are fewer dogs in Paris this year. Most of the ones we saw were cute little purebreds on leashes walking along with their people or making friends with each other while their people chatted on the sidewalk. Today we saw a Lhasa Apso, reminding us of our ongoing grieving for the Lhasa we had to put down for temperament problems before coming here. We also saw a chihuahua (long-haired), a Maltese, a Shih-tsu, a Pomeranian, a shorthaired fox terrier, and several King Charles spaniels, the breed that seems to be most popular this year.  In previous years, we’ve seen several papillons, but we saw none of those today.

Since it was Sunday, after all, we decided this morning to start off by attending Mass at St. Medard Church, which is at the end of the rue Mouffetard, where we planned to stroll and shop after Mass.  Rue Mouffetard on Sunday is famous for the popular singing and dancing, to Parisian accordion music, which has gone on there every Sunday since at least the end of the second World War. While watching old French movies from the 1930s, we’ve seen similar street gatherings to sing and dance– so the idea has been around for a while.

The street singing and music apparently started today at around the same time as Mass.  As we were listening to recited prayers and chanted church music inside the Gothic church of St. Medard, and attempting to find the silence within to pray, we could hear, coming loudly from the square outside, the strains of bouncy accordion tunes and loudly sung popular songs. The music outside sounded so joyous and inviting, it was hard to stay focused on the liturgy in which we were participating.  I entertained the thought of Dueling Parties!

The church was quite full with people of all ages, which surprised us a bit. No one around us appeared to give in to the temptation coming from the street party going on outside. Mass was over in due time, of course, and we streamed out into the street with all those who had been praying with us. At that point, the street was really full of movement and cheerfulness.

We decided to walk up the hill a bit and shop for food for later meals.  Rue Mouffetard is such a feast for the senses! We could imagine ourselves at the beach while standing outside the poissonnerie enjoying the fresh, salty smell, and the multiple cheeses in the Cremerie were equally fragrant and appealing.  Great lines waited outside what was obviously a favorite pastry shop, and also outside the butcher with his outdoor rotisserie , from which wafted the aroma of sizzling meats. The grocers’ huge displays of fresh produce drew us (and also many wasps)  with the fragrances of perfectly ripe fruits of all descriptions.  One grocer had a huge display of different, vibrantly colored mushrooms of many shapes and sizes.

One store that was delightful to explore was an old fashioned hardware and notions store.  I wish that store were online!!  The space  wound back  through at least three different buildings – a single narrow corridor leading back, lined floor to ceiling on both sides with tightly packed items, and another, parallel passage  bringing the shopper back to the checkout line. The store had all kinds of gizmos and gadgets and substances and tools…  We finally found there the net shopping bags that we had been able to purchase in Paris years before, but which have in recent years  become extremely hard to find .

These bags are brilliant.  They are compact and lightweight to carry around, and they expand enormously when filled with objects to carry.  Nancy had one she had gotten a long time ago, and I had one I had purchased when I first got to Paris in 1961 –  they’re remarkably durable and reusable — but we hadn’t been able to augment our meager supply. Today, we each found a new color to our individual liking, and now we each have two “filets.”  I had asked just the other day in our neighborhood grocery where we might find them,  and everyone standing in line to check out had gotten involved in the discussion, as often happens in neighborhood settings in Paris. At the end, everyone agreed they hadn’t seen one in a very long time. I was so happy we chanced on  a supply!

Finally, it really was time for lunch and some of the massive crowd that been in the Square Medard, in front of the church, as Mass was letting out, had dissipated.  So we strolled back down the hill to the Square, where the accordionist was still playing , and bunches of people were sitting at tables on the square eating, while a couple of dozen others were dancing enthusiastically or singing  in chorus to the accordion melodies. Different dances succeeded one another.  Ballroom demonstrations such as tangos and waltzes morphed into individualistic exuberance, gave place to line dances, and finally ended up as traditional reels and squares, a la francaise.  While watching the traditional dancing, I was reminded of dancing I’d experienced in Old Mines, Missouri, as fiddlers played historical French dance tunes and people swung and swayed and clogged enthusiastically in some of these same figures.

Only two musicians – accordionists —  have kept the party going every Sunday since at least the 1940s.  The fellow today, a man in his sixties, perhaps, who was Mr. Personality, has been leading, he says, for 30 years.  I felt really appreciative of his devotion over all this time so that we can still in 2017 enjoy this traditional Parisian street party. I hope his successor is already being trained in the wings!

As the party was drawing to a close, a large green municipal solid waste truck pulled up, slowly rounding the beautiful fountain in the square, and stopped.  Out of it hopped at least five young people, men and women, wearing gray and yellow safety vests.  Together, with great verve, they hoisted into the truck at least half a block’s worth of green trash cans and huge black trash bags.  They swept the place where the trash had been waiting, and hoisted the plastic barriers that had surrounded it into a trailer.  Five minutes after they arrived, they drove off again, leaving no trace of the mountain of waste matter that had been waiting for them.  It was a neat magic trick! It was Sunday, and I find it hard to believe that city workers would be busy on what generally in Paris is a solemnly observed day of rest.  Plus the youthfulness of the crew and the fact that it included attractive young women makes me think this was some kind of volunteer gig.

We Ubered from the Square, having thoroughly enjoyed our worship, shopping, lunch and participation in the street party, because at 3:30, it was time to be on our way to the other event we had planned for today – a free concert on the famous and historic organ at St. Sulpice Church. The occasion was a celebration of the 17th century pastor of that church who also founded the religious order of Sulpician priests, who originally had been trained at the enormous seminary that M Ollio, the priest in question, had built next to St. Sulpice Church. Members of the parish read aloud some of the spiritual letters of the pastor/ founder, and the parish organist and some of the male choir members performed music that (mostly) had been composed in the 17th century for that organ. The organ showed its stuff beautifully.

A fascinating aspect of the concert was that a videographer or two were upstairs in the organ loft transmitting to a screen set up in front by the altar an ongoing video of the organist and his assistants, whom we could not see from downstairs. Watching the organist’s hands flitting from one keyboard to another (there were five of them) and watching his feet dancing on the pedals added a whole new dimension to the organ concert experience.  Another new dimension was to see that the organist wasn’t alone. There was one assistant on each side of him, and in between pieces, both young men were very busy pushing and pulling stops according to a list each had on a piece of paper. Neither Nancy nor I had ever before thought about the possibility of the organist at one of these enormous instruments having assistants at his side to help change up all the registers and timbres between pieces.

When the concert finished, it was 5:30 – time to go home and prepare a simple evening meal.  We discovered that the bus we needed wasn’t running on Sunday – we guessed that  as we approached the bus stop from a block away, because no one was anywhere near it, and, sure enough, the schedule showed that the line doesn’t run on Sundays.  Fortunately, the square had a taxi stand and we were able to get a cab to take us home – driven by a very pleasant and attractive young woman.

It was quite a day, with three different celebrations, each so different from the other, but all animated  by music.  The day was memorable, a high point of this year’s stay here in Paris.

Posted in Parisian music, sunday | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

A Community of Diners

A Community of Diners

 

After spending most of three days housebound because of my infected toe and the doctor’s warnings and instructions on how to care for it (crutches, no shoe, no pressure on the ground…) I was really ready to bust out of the house and do something.  Nancy had spent the afternoon taking a pleasant walk around the neighborhood – different streets than we’d explored previously.  She returned with a suggestion for a new restaurant we could visit that looked appealing and had a good menu. When dinner time came around, I was ready to go!  We called Uber for door to door service, and off we went.

The restaurant was “Le Languedoc” on Boulevard Port-Royal, Despite its regional name, it had a good traditional Parisian  menu that gave lip service to southwestern France in offering a (delicious) Cassoulet, the Southwestern French traditional stew of white beans and sausage.

We entered the charming restaurant, a small to medium sized “salle” with maybe 30 tables total – tables for two or for four — with a bar at the back. The décor was “sympa,” with red checked gingham curtains at the windows, white table cloths, and light yellow walls with  pleasant country scenes and polished copper pots intermingled on all sides. The resulting ambiance seemed more charming  and homey that one generally finds in French restaurants.  We were on the early side for dinner, for which the restaurant opened at 7 pm.  As our meal and the evening progressed, a steady stream of smiling customers  came in, greeted and were greeted, and took seats at different tables.  The service was assured by the owner and his wife, who appeared to be in their late forties.

Their team work was delightful.  As the restaurant filled, it became obvious that a high percentage of the customers were “regulars”  whom the owners greeted warmly.  The customers were for the most part middle aged couples or small groups of friends, also middle aged.  And from a surprisingly high percentage of tables we heard conversations in mixed French and English – French people speaking partly in English, or Americans who obviously were well habituated and integrated in France.

The sense of camaraderie and friendliness reminded me of neighborhood restaurants I had known while here in the 1960s. Neighborhoods then had friendly restaurants where the cooking was good, with fresh ingredients, without any manner of “haute cuisine.”  In those days, some of these neighborhood restaurants went so far as to have napkins wrapped in napkin rings stashed in cubby holes for the regular customers.

As the intensity of the service rose in proportion with the number of full tables, it became clear that the choreography of serving —  greeting, bringing menus, asking people’s choices, serviing and clearing  three or four courses for each table – brought  a certain adrenaline rush that the owners enjoyed.  They were “in the zone,” turning, smiling, asking, attending to multiple tables in turn. The rhythm of the different steps was carried out flawlessly, with no apparent verbal communication about who should go where.  As is common in French restaurants, tables were quite close to each other, so we could overhear conversations at nearby tables, and anyone who needed to get up occasioned smiles and comments from neighbors at adjoining tables.

The food was also very good – excellent “bourgeois” cooking – grandmother cooking.  Doneness was perfect and sauces were well seasoned.  As an appetizer, I had a tomato salad with a lovely vinaigrette that Nancy also enjoyed garnishing an artichoke heart that was fully four inches in diameter  and over a half inch thick – the largest I have ever seen.  I had fun trying to imagine the size of the artichoke from which it came!  Nancy ordered the cassoulet and I had a steak.  Having a little “salade” of lettuce with vinaigrette to serve around the table, “a la francaise,”  after the main course was a nice touch. For dessert, Nancy had her new favorite, “café gourmand,” which includes a cup of espresso along with small portions of three different house-made desserts.  Her Cafe Gourmand at Le Languedoc consisted of a small pot of chocolate mousse, a small scoop of what looked like homemade ice cream, and a small but delicious looking slice of apple pie. My dessert was two scoops of homemade pear sorbet that was fruity  and fresh and delicate.

When we were finished, and after we had paid the check (Nancy had to get out and go up to the cash register because they did not have a card reader at the table), we collected ourselves and prepared to leave.  We were delighted when, as we were going toward the door, a whole bunch of our evening’s dining companions called out in friendly unison, “Bonsoir!  Bonne Soiree!”  It was really cheerful and friendly – a sense of neighborly connectedness that I hadn’t previously realized was missing from this modern polyglot Paris with its hordes of visitors and tourists.

Posted in Change over time, Eating in Paris, restaurants | Tagged ,