It's a market day in Paris and I'm always struck by the interesting array of characters practically everywhere I look. For instance, there's a woman - at least 85 years old - who totters around on high heels, wearing outfits designed for 20-something girls. Her shoulder-length hair is dyed bright orange-red and resembles cotton candy floss. My daughter once remarked that many of these old women have spent a lifetime wearing high heels and their feet simply can't adjust to wearing flat shoes.
Last Friday I went to the WH Smith bookshop on rue de Rivoli to get my monthly fix of American magazines. An elderly woman was sitting at a sidewalk cafe, drinking schnaps. She was wearing a leopard-print jumpsuit, high heels and had her hair piled on top of her head in a beehive. Dangling earrings, thick black eyeliner and bright red lipstick completed the femme fatale past-her-prime ensemble. I had to admire her nerve, if not her taste!
Many French women back from their August holidays in the sun are sporting extreme tans, their faces looking leathery and wrinkled, aging them at least 20 years. Haven't they heard of sunscreen? They work so hard to remain slim, yet their faces look old and splotchy. My dermatologist - a Frenchwoman with beautiful skin - is constantly ranting about these women's careless attitude about tanning.
Even the local young homeless guy - who looks perfectly healthy and capable of working - has a tan! Come to think of it, I didn't see him at his usual haunt beside the supermarket in August - he must have gone to the beach at Normandy or Deauville.
After nearly three weeks of cool rainy weather, it's turned unseasonably warm in Paris. Naturellement, most people are walking around in summer clothes. But a few fashion mavens - because the calendar says September, after all - are wearing short pleated skirts, sweaters, opaque tights and knee-high boots!
Meanwhile, everyone's having fun manuevering around the vast construction site, where an underground parking garage is being constructed beneath what once was a public park. As the site is across the street from three schools - and today was the first day back - traffic was backed up for blocks while harried traffic wardens tried to usher children across the street to waiting parents or nannies. And to think this madness will continue until 2008, when the garage is finally finished! C'est la vie en Paris!