Paris. The sky is California blue, the shadows on the stones of the church across the street sharply cut, like the stones themselves, even if they are falling into the street at intervals and needing to be wrapped in nets pending the arrival of a philanthropically-minded company, foundation, individual (Dan Brown, who used it in a movie?) , and subsequent restoration--probably not near the top of the things that need financing in France at the moment.
It seems, according to Le Monde this week, that the bottom line at Paris's Big Stores (grands magasins = department stores) is down, only somewhat mitigated by the Chinese whose tour bus companies are bribed to drop off tourists on their way to and from the Mona Lisa. It has been many years since I set foot in the Galeries Lafayettes or Printemps but I can't resist the Bon Marché and my husband is a sucker for the BHV (Bazaar de l'Hotel de Ville, on the quai near City Hall) basement hardware department, which has a café with workbenches for tables, and everything else, from doorknobs to nails, that anyone with a fixation on Parisian buildings could dream of. It reminds me that when I was little my mother used to take us to the basement of The Hudson's Bay Company store on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver (or Eaton's?) for a "malted milk," a flesh pink shake so thick you could cut it with a knife. Small wonder I have a sweet tooth.
Later in life--not much later--I had holiday jobs in the upper levels: filling ketchup containers in the restaurant, selling socks... . That was before I was old enough to be a full-fledged waitress at a summer resort in the Rockies and lived in the longest log cabin in Canada with a matron guarding each end of it, notwithstanding everyone slipped out every night with blankets for orgies in the--what else? primal forest.