Plan de Paris

June 10th, 2010, 6pm

My favorite bookshop in Paris was Shakespeare & Co. Like many of my favorite places there, it would have been much better without so many tourists.

It was here I bought my map. The clerk stamped it with the store’s logo a bust of William Shakespeare with the name of the store above him and the location—Kilometer Zero Paris—below.

The bookshop was separated from Notre Dame by the river. The walls were covered with built-in shelves that stretched to the ceiling. In odd corners there were bed frames. Upstairs there was a piano and a nook with a typewriter.

The same bookstore published James Joyce’s Ulysses and housed beat poets like Allen Ginsburg.

I arrived in Paris days before the other study abroad students. When they arrived, jetlagged, tightlipped, and much too early to check into our l’aparthotel, our professors decided this would be the perfect time to do our whirlwind tour of Paris’s landmarks (most of which I had just recently seen).

The Eiffel Tower was underwhelming for a second time. We took the metro to see the Bastille. Our professor told us that political rallies were still held here.

Today there was one about Israel/Palestine. And it had gotten heated. Half the students, including myself had made it up the metro stairs before it became a riot. A mass of people rushed towards us. The students at the top of the stairs rushed to one side. The students at the bottom of the stairs were swallowed up by the mob and pushed back onto the metro.

I took out my Plan de Paris and my French Sparknotes. The mob had shut down the metro line that led back to our l’aparthotel. That was our introduction to Paris. After that, I learned to trust the metro which made Paris navigable through sets of color-coded lines named after their beginnings and endings.

To-From. This was a simple, comforting label I’ve never been able to fill in the blanks for when describing my roots. It depends on when you ask. For now: Idaho-Texas. But this might not be my answer a year from now.

Share this moment

Madison Griffin

Nature + Literature =

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook