Sunday, August 5, 2012

THE PORTS OF PARIS

 When my friend Sam (whose real name is Ralph) bought a new boat in the UK, he sailed her back home to Cannes through the beautiful canals of France and on the way, he stopped in the Port de Paris. Who knew there was a port in Paris?  In fact there are many, including: le Port des Champs Elysées, le Port de la Concorde, le Port des Tuileries (The best way to get to the Louvre: tie up near the Pont du Carrousel, step off the boat and there you are.)  
     What a wonderful thing to get a call from an old friend who usually only writes once a year at Christmas time from Cannes which he considers the centre of the universe: “Come to dinner and see my new home.” And what another wonderful thing to be able to take a taxi to the Port de la Concorde instead of a TGV to visit Sam at home. 
     The new boat (it’s considered crass to call a yacht a yacht, apparently) was much more luxurious and comfortable than Sam’s previous boat. Its gleaming wood paneled “salon”— I’m not good at nautical terms—was warm and cozy and Sam's dinner, made in the tiny galley, was delicious. Afterwards, the bliss of cognacs on the poop deck patio overlooking the magnificent Pont Alexandre III with the Seine slapping at the quai. 
     What a wonderful thing to be able to move your home around the world and find a different city at the end of your gangplank every now and then.  
     I subsequently spent many summers in Cannes on Sam’s boat although I’m not really a boat person.  I tend to like my boats attached to a quai and I panic if we put out to sea; all that vastness and deepness and wetness with whales and octopi, ugh.  But I do enjoy bobbing about, finding my sea legs and having endless summer meals on deck with a chilled rosé and radishes carved like roses and lots of laughs.  I like being able to walk down to the shops for chocolate truffles, saucisson à l'ail, soup de poissons and the other fabulous food to be found on the rue d’Antibes and in the pungent market. 
     It’s a wonderful thing to get up in the morning and see the misty blue Esterel, Le Suquet dominating the orange tiled roofs of the old town, smell the marine diesel fuel and hear the sound of rigging slapping against masts.

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