Socializing in Paris, and first glimpses of the Tour Eiffel

To my surprise, I have been meeting people in Paris.

It started when my new Istanbul friend Z suggested I go to a Sunday dinner party. For more than 30 years, Louisiana-born Jim Haynes has been hosting strangers to dinner at his Paris flat; you call/email Jim to get on the list, then show up and pay what you can (suggested 30€/person). I contacted him on the day of our arrival, was placed on a waitlist, and then heard on Sunday afternoon that there was space for us. That night, we walked the 1.5km to his apartment in the 14th arrondissement, feeling a bit odd when we got to the locked gate and saw/heard no one else there. We hung around a few minutes until we saw another couple go in, then followed them. It was a good party: a bit crowded for Erik’s taste, and definitely requiring as much extroversion as possible, but I met a lot of interesting people and fellow travelers (mostly Americans, and strangely enough, many of them writers). I was so busy talking that I skipped the main course! When we left three hours later, I was very happy. I’ve read some online reviews complaining that the dinners are a ripoff and not worthwhile; I suspect attendees’ mileage varies greatly depending on expectations, personality, and who shows up that night. I have been to at least two other “underground” dinners — both in California — and enjoyed Jim’s the most, probably because everyone was circulating (read: standing up) rather than seated at a table. This didn’t make for very restful dining, but it did help with conversation, and I think that’s what such parties are for. I discovered later that Jim’s Sunday dinners are even mentioned in my guidebook — they’re an institution indeed!

Statue of an equestrian George Washington, silhouetted against a pinky-red sunset

After the dinner party, I received an invitation from Edith (the first person I’d met at Jim’s) to her Meetup group’s outing to the Musée d’Art Moderne. Erik had a phone meeting, so I headed out alone on the bus — a fine way to people-watch, especially in traffic! The group was visiting the massive exhibit L’Art en guerre, a collection of nearly 400 works created 1938-1947 by artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky. I wandered the galleries for a couple of hours, mostly on my own, but occasionally chatting with some of the other members of the Meetup, whom I hope to meet again. It was a good mix of meditative viewing and social time. If you’d like to see some of the pieces, I pinned a dozen of my favorites on Pinterest.

And, to my very great pleasure, I found the Tour Eiffel while making my way to the museum. Of course I had to stop and take pictures.

Eiffel Tower and the Seine near sunset

Lisa with the Eiffel Tower in the background

Eiffel Tower at sunset, viewed from between buildings

And here’s one more, from after I left the museum.

Eiffel Tower and the Seine by night

By the way, when I finally got home around 10 PM, I steamed the fish I’d bought that morning at the outdoor market. It turned out extremely well.

Chinese-style steamed fish and bok choy with ginger, green onions, and cilantro