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After failing completely to sleep, I slapped on some makeup to ensure I didn’t startle the locals with my very convincing zombie impression, and left to meet darling Camilla at Place d’Italie, about ten minutes’ walk from my B&B. I am staying in the 13th arrondissement, which is in the south of Paris, almost at the periphery. I wasn’t sure whether that would be good, not being in the centre of the city, but actually it is lovely. Things aren’t quite as expensive and there aren’t a million tourists around. In fact, it’s very typically Parisian, somewhere people live and work and go to school. There are universities nearby and many students wandering around. Lots of Africans and Asians (and the Asian students here are exactly the same as in Sydney; hang around in large groups, chattering excitedly and shrieking a lot, except their chattering is laced with French instead of English).

This is the view of the square outside my B&B.

It was so good to see Camilla! She looks the very picture of Parisian chic (which impressive considering she has no money), and she was so excited to see an English-speaking friend she chattered away nonstop and kept apologising for it. In July she is marrying Moise, who she met here a few years ago when she was studying. She was telling me all about the dramas of getting a wedding dress, and arranging paperwork for the wedding, and negotiating all the family politics of a large extended African family. I assured her that it sounded very similar to negotiating the family politics of a large Asian family.

We wandered around the streets with no specific direction in mind, and had a coffee at the bar of a little cafe we stumbled upon. It’s always cheaper to drink your coffee standing at the bar, and it feels a very French thing to do.

Then we continued to wander, chatting, until we were hungry enough to stop for dinner. We went to this restaurant called Le Canon des Gobelins, because I thought somewhere called the Goblin Canon would be fun to eat (I don’t know what it actually means…probably something very serious and/or poetic – oh, from what I can gather from the French Wikipedia entry, it was a family name of people who made famous tapestries in the area)). The meal was pleasant (I had chicken, she had fish), the wine yummy, the conversation hilarious.

They gave us popcorn before the meal. We’re still not sure why, but we ate it anyway.
We especially enjoyed the decor of the place, in particular the use of urns with steel wool in them (this was not a cleaning-related accident (ie, “oops, I left the steel wool out there, I hope the patrons think it’s just a decoration”), as there were several dotted around the room):

Cam wandered back to La Villa with me, and came up to check out the room. We had just been reminiscing about when we lived together and had Friends and Gilmore Girls marathons, so she was very excited to see I’d brought along some GG discs (for wind-down time). “One episode,” she said, “then I’ll go.” So we sprawled on the huge white bed and watched one episode of Gilmore Girls, and it was just like old times. I fell asleep, woke up to see her out and arrange a time to meet tomorrow, then went to bed. I see there was a missed call on my phone at midnight last night; I must have been dead to the world because I didn’t hear it ring at all.