Always Talk to Strangers in Paris


We were hanging out at the Les Cars Air France shuttle at Montparnasse which is located on rue Commandant Mouchotte exit from the Montparnasse train station. You can pick up the first shuttle bus of the day at 7 am and get to Charles de Gaulle airport within 45 minutes to an hour on a low-traffic day. The one-way tickets costs 14 Euros. You can your fare to the shuttle bus driver. Heavy luggage is stowed before you board and the baggage handler will want to know if you’re going to Terminal 1 or Terminal 2.

I had noticed the passenger ahead of us was wearing a jean jacket with the words ‘Jimi Hendrix’. It’s hard for me not to say a few words to fellow Jimi Hendrix fans – which led to a discussion of Bob Marley, and from there to Yannick Noah.

“I saw Bob Marley in concert in Santa Cruz, CA” I told Benedicte and she in turn told me, “I played tennis with Yannick Noah – we were on the same team – way back when we were still kids.”

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Benedicte isn’t playing tennis these days – she’s doing other things like painting amazing watercolor landscapes – far from Paris, The Cape Horn, the Magellan Straits, Ushuaia for example where she and her partner conduct sailing trips and sailing instruction for those who are courageous enough to test their sailing skills in some of the most challenging conditions.

Part of the magic of Paris is its absorption and dispersal of people to all corners of the world like a huge centrifugal triage system. I like being in Montparnasse for this reason because people, here, tend to be on the brink of great adventures.

Although we don’t plan on being in the Cape Horn anytime soon, I can travel through Benedicte’s paintings – and imagine sailing to Antarctica. If you really want to improve your French, go on a sailing trip with a French crew. Just don’t ever utter the word ‘lapin’ or rabbit. Very bad luck.