If, in the past few weeks, you happened to be in Paris, you’ll have noticed that people seemed nonplussed as they faced the bitter Northern winds, wearily tightening their grips on their dull winter wraps. This past Wednesday, to combat the gloom of yet another cold day, I clad myself in lycra and Nikes at the ridiculous hour of 7am and turned a steely eye toward the top of the hill. Andrew had left a few days earlier on yet another mission, and I was holding down the fort. But the natives were a restless bunch; a good deal of time had been spent subduing heated debates regarding efficacy of school curriculums, homework and housework. There had been conversations like the following: Me – Put your dirty clothes in the hamper. Respondent – Where are these ‘alleged’ dirty clothes. Me – All over your room. Respondent – I don’t see any of those things. Therefore, no action need be taken at present. or, The Accusor – Hey! Who ate my pudding! The Accused – How was I to know it was yours. There was no nametag on it saying, ‘This is hers.’ Therefore, the pudding is free to be eaten. It was like living with 2 lawyers, except not as swanky an apartment.

The Champs Elysee is considered a glamorous locale, but early on a Wednesday morning, the hazy mist of yesterday’s tour bus fumes hanging damp on the trees, the green cleaning trucks spraying down the sidewalks, debris running down the gutter, it was just another hill to climb. I waited at the light at Matignon, eyeing the Metro entrance, the usual route back home, but not today. Today would be different! The walk sign turned green giving pedestrians seconds to scurry across the widest avenue in the world, cars chomping at the bit to go the second the light turned. I dodged across and started a slow jog to the Arc.

It’s longer and steeper than it looks, distances hard to measure on this scale. I panted by windows of well dressed people already congregated in warm cafes. I envied their beautiful lattes. The wind was whipping down the avenue, I was pushing up it. Times like these, it helps to think of other things. Our youngest had told me about a recent school outing to the Louvre. They had walked over to the gardens with a photographer to make their school photo. What a fun idea. But they’d met the same wind. Not so good. The solution they’d said, “to Photoshop out the wild hair.” Hmmm. School photos gotten sophisticated these days. Then they had had lunch. Outside!? Yep! Where? Right there. And a bunch of kids had all packed pasta. What a coincidence! DD had ravioli. Stuart had spaghetti. Jules had lasagna. The teacher had fusilli. Apparently, the spaghetti in the wind was a problem. Like hair, it gets tangled. Not ‘wind food’ the kids said. Photoshop it out. Haha.

By this time, feeling the burn, I’d reached the top, the Triumph to my right, the twelve radiating avenues fanning out, fun to maneuver in a bus. The hardest part was over, and I didn’t really mind the cold now. It’s always good to have something to compare things to. Heading toward rue Victor Hugo, that would be a piece of cake, as it was full of shop windows to look at, plus it had a lot of trees and it was flat.