petite anglaise

July 4, 2005


Filed under: city of light, navel gazing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:20 pm

Paris is rapidly losing what little hold it still had over me.

I spent most of the return train journey dangerously close to tears. Saying goodbye to my lover after another idyllic weekend is becoming more and more of a wrench, even if I was, simultaneously, looking forward to seeing Tadpole after four days away. To add insult to injury, my ‘reserved’ seat had been double booked, meaning that in the absence of any other vacant seats, I had to spend the entire trip sitting on a fold down strapontin in the area between two carriages. There didn’t appear to be any air conditioning – or any oxygen for that matter – and my attempts to read a book were thwarted by my head dipping forwards at regular intervals as I fought a losing battle to stay awake.

I arrived back in the capital late on Sunday afternoon, at my lowest ebb, and began the interminable journey home to collect Tadpole. The métro was humid, and packed with sticky, scantily clad bodies. The connections involved what seemed like hours of trailing along corridors, heaving my bag up and down flights of stairs, and hurrying down moving walkways, all of which were heated to an uncomfortable temperature – which a Delia recipe would probably refer to as a ‘slow’ oven. When I emerged from the exit onto my avenue, drained and dehydrated, I was greeted by the choking fug of car exhaust in the cloying, syrupy air and the familiar wail of sirens which form a permanent soundtrack to this city.

As the lift rose to my floor, I felt for keys in my pocket. They were heavier than usual, weighty with the recent addition of keys to my lover’s home. I closed my eyes and imagined that the lift would obligingly deliver me to his front door, instead of here, where only an empty flat awaited me. Devoid now of Mr Frog’s presence, cleared of all his belongings. Strangely though, it doesn’t feel like it is Mr Frog who is missing. Even though my lover has spent only one day and one night here, he has left behind his imprint, like a watermark, in every room.

As I waited for Tadpole and Mr Frog to arrive, and for the kettle to boil, I slid down the wall until I was seated on the soothing, cool tiles of the kitchen floor. The tears finally came.

If home is where the heart is, I mislaid mine in Rennes.


  1. At the risk of sounding like a smartarsed I told you so….. Didn’t I tell you so? Sorry but I didn’t buy the part-time mum, sharing Tadpole with Frog ex just across the street, part-time long distance lover deal.
    When the feeling’s this strong, (and how well you tell it) the odd weekend is never enough. I know because I’ve been there and that’s why I’m here, where I left my heart, in Paris.

    Comment by Parkin Pig in shorts — July 4, 2005 @ 4:21 pm

  2. What a lovely description of being joyfully in love (apart from the bits about the hot train and metro ride of course!). I wish you all the best – reading your blog over the last few weeks has made me long to be in love and given me back hope that perhaps the right man is just round the corner. There is nothing better than throwing yourself 100% into being in love.

    Comment by Hazy — July 4, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

  3. Parkin Pig – are you *still* wearing shorts, or do you need to clear your petite anglaise cookie to, ahem, drop the shorts?

    Comment by petite — July 4, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

  4. Love makes even the greyest, coldest, ugliest place magnetic, doesn’t it? Even Epping (no, really). And as Rennes is quite a nice city to start with, having the object of your affections here will give it untold appeal!
    I hope you can be together soon…

    Comment by Susan in Rennes — July 4, 2005 @ 4:26 pm

  5. Ah, the roller coaster ride of long-distance love. I know it well! At least you’re only a train ride away!

    Look at the bright side, my friend: there’s always a bright side. :)

    Comment by ViVi — July 4, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

  6. the metro,a slow oven… excellent, i’ll keep that in mind…. take limos, it’s handier and nicer.

    I’m in Montreal today and I can tell you that I don’t miss Paris either… Montreal is just so sexy…

    Comment by stephan — July 4, 2005 @ 4:29 pm

  7. Long distance is hard, that much I can empathise with. As Vivi said, focus on the positives…

    Comment by Nicnu — July 4, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

  8. Hold on – sorry to lower the tone here, but I think I’ve missed something. Is Jim in Rennes the lucky man?

    Comment by céline — July 4, 2005 @ 5:10 pm

  9. Yep. My new friend lives 6 hours in the only direction that doesn’t have a TGV. There are often delays on the line, as they are building the TGV, to open in 2007. Neither of us knows what country we’ll be living in in three months. It’s going to be hard.

    Comment by EasyJetsetter — July 4, 2005 @ 5:12 pm

  10. Having lived in Montreal and Paris … and Chicago and Vancouver and I’ve-been-everywhere-man I long ago acquired the belief that places have personalities just like people. Some you love and some you don’t. Some are good for you, some not. And you can fall out of love with them too. (Ah Montreal, what years we had together.) Sounds to zap like that’s where PA is right now. Paris is on the wane. C’est la vie.

    Comment by zap — July 4, 2005 @ 5:23 pm

  11. PA – There’s no mistake. Parkin Pig now wears shorts May thru September which was not the case in breezy Huddersfield (nor I suppose in Sheffield for that blue shorted wordsmith person you’ve taken up with)

    Comment by Parkin Pig in shorts till September — July 4, 2005 @ 7:19 pm

  12. you make me smile, you make me laugh and today you gave me shivers down my back…

    Comment by trine — July 4, 2005 @ 8:39 pm

  13. Petite~
    This is my first time reading your blog. I found a link to it on an expat web site. All I can say is… WOW… I’m speechless. You’re writing is so beautiful.

    …And with that, you have a new, regular reader.

    Comment by Madison — July 4, 2005 @ 8:44 pm

  14. I KNOW exactly how you feel. When I met my boyfriend I lived in Nice and him in Lille. I don’t think we could have been any further apart. I was lucky enough to see him ever month, but leaving is always the hardest! At first you always cry. I cried the first few times I had to leave him too. But to be honest, you get used to it. After that, I tried to stay strong when I was leaving him. Many times still close to tears.

    Now things are actually worst for me. I’m back in the states and he’s in Paris. He last visited in March and before that November. We are planning on being together in Paris soon, but it’s hard to wait.

    Good luck with everything. Long distance relationships are VERY hard but I do think that they can work out in the end. Bonne Chance!

    Comment by juliana — July 4, 2005 @ 9:04 pm

  15. Sounds like that pain is the price exacted for passion bit again ………. any chance you were brought up in the Roman tradition, Petite?
    But why blame poor, dear Paris for the woes? Would Paris seem so bad if Newman had an apartment in the Marais or in St Germain? Perhaps, after a decade + +?, familiarity is taking off the shine, & of course there are all the warts & wrinkles you have written about, & Paris with trolley & toddler in tow is not quite the Paris of the footloose & fancy free? Perhaps the day job also accounts for your mood?………its not enabling you to develop your writing and marketing talents?
    Back to the guides?…be a thirty something tourist in Paris (including the environs) again?….. or if you really need to rediscover your love of the City of Light, try a weekend back reconnecting with the Yorkshire roots!

    Comment by Fella — July 4, 2005 @ 10:50 pm

  16. i’m delurking to ask the same question as celine – did i miss something – is jim in rennes the lucky man? this is like a good cliff hanger…..why is nobody asking besides us not even parking pig in shorts till september? did we miss something?

    Comment by jan — July 5, 2005 @ 12:47 am

  17. petite what a lovely post…

    stephan, you’re becoming a man obsessed…

    Comment by mainja — July 5, 2005 @ 3:22 am

  18. I fell out of love with Paris 5 years ago. It happens. And I do believe home is where the heart is.

    I’m sorry it’s so painful at times like these Petite. You told it so well I could almost feel it. Mais quand y a de l’amour, y’a de l’espoir!

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — July 5, 2005 @ 5:16 am

  19. Why don’t you move to Rennes, Petite?
    Jobs are easy to find, schools too (there’s even a Montessori school, ain’t there, Susan?) regular trains seem to go quicker and quicker between Rennes and Paris – soon you’ll be able to do the journey before even leaving…
    When you know it’s right, it’s right. What’s the point in hanging around, eh?
    GOD you write well…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — July 5, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  20. P.S Feeling smug in a nice way!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — July 5, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  21. LJ : Well… no doubt I will eventually. But at the moment my number one priority is Tadpole, providing her with some continuity and proximity to her daddy.

    If it was only about me, I’d have packed my bags already.

    Comment by petite — July 5, 2005 @ 10:44 am

  22. Its something about the heatwave that has made Paris insupportable. I left Paris for the day on Sunday, and just spent the entire afternoon dreaming of moving to the suburbs (THE SUBURBS!!!) Every little thing that is wrong with Paris, noisy neighbors, rude shopgirls, etc just inches me closer to the edge. I’m starting to realize its not just me, but the entire city that feels that way. Lets all leave en masse and leave it to the tourists to do what they will.

    Comment by Nicole — July 5, 2005 @ 11:11 am

  23. Obviously it’s a little early for either of you to be thinking of moving in together, and right now it’s horribly hard to leave him at the end of each weekend, but in the long term couldn’t your lover move nearer to you in Paris?

    Tadpole needs to be near her daddy, but (if your lover is who I think he is) he will also need to be near to his daughters.

    His work could be done from anywhere couldn’t it? No need for him to stay in his “garrett” (oh go on, you didn’t really expect us not to snoop a little, leaving us a cliffhanger like that).

    Good luck Petite, to all of you.

    Comment by Cat — July 5, 2005 @ 11:51 am

  24. Apologies for heaving out the old chestnut, but absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and the soul stronger. A stifling Paris metro does absolutely nothing to remind you of this though.

    Chin up, petite, you’re doing great.

    Comment by Gab — July 5, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

  25. Could be worse – you could be getting the Olympics. Crowds, congestion, years of building works…

    Comment by JAG — July 6, 2005 @ 3:53 pm

  26. Petite:

    yes, all situations are different and unique, but there are paterns. My mom fell in love with a (fantastic) man who lived in Chicago (we lived just outside of Geneva). I was 5. When I was 8, we moved to Chicago (“for 1 year”). My father still lived (still does today) in Switzerland, but I moved with Maman to the States anyway. I went back every summer and every Christmas. Yes, there were YEARS of weird daughter-father crap, but nothing that wouldn’t have been there anyway.

    My point is this, if Tadpole loves you the way that I love my Maman, moving a “short” train ride away from Daddy won’t be that terrible. Take a few years to think about it, as I’m sure you will. But in the end, Tadpole also deserves the happiest Mum on the planet.

    Always, Estelle

    Comment by Estelle — July 6, 2005 @ 8:50 pm

  27. had a feeling you where describing Montparnasse
    a handy hint
    dont go through all the tunnels,get out asap and take the metro from the outside
    much quicker and less hassle for the eventual pushchair moments
    my man was in Le Mans then in Rennes for 18 months
    I know that metro road to hell,which is longer than the actual TGV ride!!!!
    I loved Rennes
    Houses are cheaper just outside
    i found a great Indian shop selling Pataks sauces,pupadums and mint sauce!!!what more could you want!!

    Comment by mary — July 7, 2005 @ 10:44 am

  28. How I miss London… I am French, and though, I’ve always been deepluy attracted by the english way of life;;..Lived there fort a year… wonderful memories;.. Wish I could moveback there….. I know what being homesick means, believe me…

    Comment by gigi — July 8, 2005 @ 1:16 am

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