By the Seine is where I often find myself after I have been away from Paris for a while. I like how peaceful life seems to be along “les quais,” (the riverbanks,) away from the sound of traffic and the big commotion above my head, as I sit or stroll by the water. Since Paris and I met, decades ago, I have spent a lot of time by the Seine, downtown, or in the outskirts. This blog was only a few months old when I dedicated a tribute to Paris’s historical lifeline, years ago.
Like many locals during this exceptional year, I was away from Paris for a good part of the summer, traveling south in Western France, from Southern Brittany to Nantes, down to Bordeaux, Arcachon and the Atlantic coast, all the way to the French Basque country, finally veering east towards my hometown, Toulouse, and, after one final stop in Lyon, returning to the French capital.
An unemployed tour guide without clients, I traveled solo, but never alone, as I interacted with members old and new in the growing online community launched so many years ago when I was still a French Girl living in Seattle.
After I returned to Paris, it only seemed natural to check on la Seine once again. Late afternoon on Saturday, right around the sacred time of day the French call “l’apéro,” (apéritif,) I found a quiet spot below le quai de Bourbon, on the Ile Saint Louis, facing the right bank.
I had a virtual date with France with Véro Club Members in the private Facebook group where we trade stories and travel tips about Paris and France. Even if we’d stayed in touch daily during my summer travels, I wanted this “coming-home” edition to be a special one. I knew many among them had missed Paris and were still mourning over canceled visits they had planned for months.
It was a beautiful late summer day, the air crisp in spite of the sun, heralding the start of autumn, just a few weeks away. It was apéro time, and I had not come empty-handed. I had even found bite-sized saucisson to enjoy with my wine: It’d be easier to slip under the face-mask. Welcome to 2020 picnics!
The conversation was relaxed, as we discussed Labor Day weekend in the United States, my summer travels, and upcoming fall events in Paris. Meanwhile, I continued live-streaming and shared the (very) Parisian scene around me. Tour boats gliding along the Seine and passersby provided entertainment and Parisian vibes galore.
After almost an hour, it was time to say “au revoir” to my francophile (and Parisophile!) friends. They went on with their day. I looked for a place to wrap up this pleasant evening. Paris is worth the occasional splurge: I snatched the best table at the popular St Régis café on Ile Saint Louis.
By the time I crossed le pont Louis Philippe back to the right bank, les berges de Seine (the riverbanks) were getting busier. Music and laughter echoed in the background. I looked down at the civilized and cheerful scene for a while, from a great vantage point between the large, green bouquinistes stalls, now mostly closed for the day.
Before disappearing in the small streets of le Marais to catch the Metro that would take me home, I looked at the Seine and smiled. I could swear she waved back at me.
Welcome home. Bienvenue à la maison, Véro!
By the Seine: Bonus material
If this short video vignette left you wanting more, you can join the 50-minute picnic chat with France with Véro Club Members by the Seine. Look up Club Membership rewards on Patreon and unlock all the exclusive content I have shared for the last five months, including the chat replay! — Véro
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