At 7a.m. neither I nor the city looked our best after an 8 hour flight void of comfort, sleep, or edible food.
But after the shuttle deposited me in front of Gard de Lyon, I sat down at the first cafe I came to and ordered a gorgeous, steaming cup of Chocolat. And watched as the morning sun cast a warm glow over the grey buildings and the city started coming to life. Women carrying baguettes nearly as tall as themselves, matrons with shopping bags overflowing with fresh flowers, businessmen so dapper and perfect in their cashmere coats and scarves arranged just so.
There were hours and hours until the hotel would let us check in, so we spent the time hopping from one warm cafe to another. A tartine et cappucino here, an onion soup there... each time an opportunity to put my long-dormant high school French to good use. I have to offer up thanks to Madame Peterson of SaMoHi for somehow instilling within me the vocabulary and phrases I would need all these years later.
I've never really appreciated quite so viscerally the joy of communication. Even a single word can be a key that unlocks a smile, a flash of comprehension, a connection with another person.
Finally, after a brisk walk around Notre Dame, we crossed back over the river to our cheerful little neighborhood of St Michel and gratefully checked in to the hotel (a 300 year old establishment with a very wind-y staircase and floors that sloped alarmingly). I tumbled into bed and lost consciousness for the rest of the day, surfacing briefly for a bite of dinner, and then slept another 8 hours until morning.