It was hard to go back to sleep, and my family kept calling since I'd sent them an email about the jeunes burning the cars. I got about three hours sleep and was still groggy as E knocked and we went downstairs to go to Bercy, in the 12th arrondissement for lunch. My upstairs neighbor and her German husband were just arriving home with lots of suitcases, actually a bit chagrined to have missed all the excitement. Her family owns a huge Burgundy vineyard and chateau, and if I had one, I'd spend my fall weekends out there too. We have been having perfect weather, but it would be so nice to be out in the country. I couldn't stay and talk even though all my neighbors were there, animatedly discussing the riots. I think I was the only one awake when things started, so some of them didn't see as much. We'll catch up on Tuesday evening, when all the propriétaires in the building are having a meeting with the syndic, or management company.
I've decided to drive my car to Germany on Wednesday and leave it there safely in D's garage till I come back from the Indian wedding in two weeks. If the poor car survives the next few days, that is. Thirty cars burned in Paris intramuros last night. (That's the expression the newspapers use to mean the actual city, delimited mostly by the Périphérique, or ring road.)
E and I took a taxi to meet my friend "Buffin" at the restaurant. Buffin is British and recently moved to Paris. He has the admirable aim of exploring each arrondissement, starting or ending with a good meal there. We went to one of those provincial-cuisine restaurants that I usually dread, since I am not a heavy eater and they tend to feature boudin noir, tripe, tête de veau, râble de lapin, kidneys, and a whole lot of other things I don't want to eat. As we waited for our entrée (which in France logically means the appetizer), we saw two waiters outside on the terrace madly stirring some white substance in a huge copper pot, right behind two diners. Then carefully one of them raised the spoon high in the air and ribboned a vast amount of the white stuff forwards and backwards over a large black sausage. "Cheese!" said Buffin. "It must be cheese." The cheese poured over the edge of the plate and the waiter scraped around the edge with a knife. Then he repeated the whole process for the second plate and set the two vast servings before the two diners, two young men who started laughing at the sheer size of their meal.
The meal was delicious, and enlivened by Buffin's curious French (he always calls for a celebratory "coup de champagne" before lunch, which makes me laugh). E has found an apartment now and is moving out of my chambre de service, but two of her homeless student friends are living with her, so she hasn't had time to enjoy it.
Then we walked over to the new Bercy park. It's been open for about ten years, but I had never been there before, except on one grim wintry day. Today in the cool sunny Indian summer, the park was full of people but didn't feel crowded, and reminded me of a Chinese garden because there were so many different-feeling sections to it. We saw a bride and groom having their picture taken, and there were fountains, statues, a fun skateboard/rollerblade park, a potager (kitchen-garden), some water features and a small vineyard. Here are some photos of the lovely place.
We saw a group of Scouts de France. The French pronounce it scoot, as in "I myself was a scoot." They don't have one big Scouting organization. Instead each community runs its own. There are Catholic scoot, Protestant scoot, Jewish scoot, Muslim scoot, Communist scoot, secular scoot, and probably Mormon and Sikh scoot too. These Scouts looked like Catholic ones-- they tend to conform the most to the uniform, and their accompagnatrices were in navy blue. The Catholic church in France holds roughly the same position in social status as the Episcopal church in the U.S. or the Anglican church in England, with the difference that 90% of the population nominally are Catholics; but in France mostly aristocrats, bourgeois, blue-collar and country people go to church. The broad middle classes don't.
Afterwards we all walked back to the metro, but before she left I showed E the Gare de Lyon's main building and the magnificent Belle Epoque dining room above it, the Train Bleu.
I hope it's a quiet night.