“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 46: An American Dog in the City of Light, Part Two

It was time to return to Paris after several weeks of travel.  This time, Zoe entered the city in comfort: from the back of the car, with her people in front listening quietly to the soothing, female French voice of the GPS as it led them into the great city.

It was going to be better this time for Zoe.  They had a great apartment all to themselves, not far from Place de la Bastille.  They would be able to shop at the open market there, walk a few blocks down to the Marais, and go to the Seine every day, which was Zoe's favorite smelling part of Paris.
They were staying at Marianne and Marc's family's place.  Marianne and Marc live in Berlin, but they had spent a year in the North Country some years ago, where they became friends with Zoe's people and told them about this apartment in one of Natalia's favorite parts of Paris.  What had started as a vague wish on Natalia's part was real.

She and Kerry felt very lucky.

The apartment had everything they needed.  Zoe enjoyed sitting out on the balcony in the morning watching other people drink their coffee on their balconies.  When it grew too hot, she liked to go back inside and sit under the kitchen table during lunch. 
The location--near shops and parks and the Marais and the Sunday Bastille market--was perfect.

The Seine wasn't far.  As Natalia and Kerry had promised Zoe, there was delicious ice cream to be had in Paris.  Berthilon is considered to be the best ice cream in France, and it is made on Île St. Louis.

Of course they walked over there immediately, on their very first day.

Zoe thought the ice cream was a good idea. 

She would point to the island's ice cream stands on their walks for the rest of the week.

Zoe also enjoyed sniffing around Notre Dame but did not understand why so many people wanted to take their picture under it.

Natalia was starting to think that maybe Paris was a good city for dogs after all.

After all, Zoe liked the apartment.

She liked the Seine.

The French dogs seemed to like her scent, and many came over to say hello.

And they were admitted into fine restaurants, where she was always seated under fragrant tables.

But their good luck could not last forever.

Soon they discovered a problem. 

Because, perhaps, of bad behavior in the past (people not picking up after their pets, hmmmmm) dogs are not welcome inside Paris parks.

Zoe and Natalia found this out when they went into the Place de Vosges and heard a whistle.  All heads turned to watch as this American woman and American dog were busted.  An officer escorted both of them out and then pointed to this sign, which they would soon see all over the city.

They would find themselves looking longingly across fences and into green spaces, day after day and day.  Sometimes at night, they considered breaking the law, and once or twice, they did, but don't tell anyone.

Towards the end of a good day, they often wandered into the Marais.

One night everyone was gathering inside bars to watch the concluding game of the World Cup.

Spain won, and Zoe was glad because she had been to Spain in June and had eaten very good ham there when she was meeting her people's niece's family.

There were so many colors to see in shop windows and on street signs, even as it got late and dark.  Rue de Rosiers, in the Jewish quarter, is always full of tourists, but it is one of Natalia's favorite streets. 

Later that week, Zoe's people thought a boat ride would be a great way for Zoe to see the city.

Zoe helped pick the spot for the picnic first.  She also caught up on her reading.  Kerry read to her his favorite stories from Tintin.

After the picnic, it was time to find a boat.

While her people checked out the sights, Zoe studied the water.

It was a perfect, sunny day, and even the crew of the boat came out to meet Zoe and snap a picture of Zoe's family.

The week was going well, but then Natalia realized something.  It was soon going to be Bastille Day, and they would be in earshot of it.  Like many dogs, Zoe is not a fan of firecrackers.  She does not like loud revelers.

In other words, they were in the best location for human beings who want to enjoy Bastille Day in Paris, but not for a dog.

In fact, Zoe's people became alarmed at Zoe's reaction to pre-Bastille Day firecrackers.  It was terrible to see their dog so scared.  They had escaped America's Independence Day celebrations, which take a lot out of Zoe, and here they had gone to the capitol for another independence day show.

But then something unexpected happened.  On the night in question, they couldn't hear any fireworks or any wild partiers at all.

Instead, a thunderstorm blew through town.  It hit Paris was such force, that all plans for dancing in the streets were suspended.

Still, this was one of Zoe's worst nights on the trip.  Zoe's people spent all night comforting her as she whimpered and shook.  They cuddled her, rubbed her belly, scratched her ears, and eventually she fell asleep. Zoe fears thunderstorms as deeply as she fears fireworks.

At least they couldn't blame Zoe's bad night on the city of light.

The next day, they took Zoe to a veterinarian to see if maybe some kind of doggy-valium would be helpful if they came upon another big storm.  The vet was a young woman who happened to love America and especially New Yorkers.  She had perfected her English by watching Seinfeld and Friends, and she hopes to eventually move to Manhattan.  She was very sweet to Zoe.

The week ended peacefully, without incident, and Zoe and Natalia learned where to find patches of green in Paris: those that are open to dogs, those that aren't, and everything in between.

And Zoe received a big reward for having put up with big city life for an entire week.

A few days later, they were in Brittany, where she swam almost every day.  A family vacation involves compromise, and if you wait long enough, you will always get to do what you love best.


  1. No dogs inside the parks? I never would have expected that.

    1. Me either! Dogs can go into any restaurant, but because laws about cleaning up after dogs are, well, relaxed in France, people must have decided they didn't want to have picnics on dog "merde." In Paris they are very very strict about this, and someone in uniform actually blows a whistle and escorts you out.I heard there is a dog area in the Luxembourg Park--but I never found it. In the rest of France, it was easy to bring dogs in parks, even if there were signs against it.