France – A Few Days In Paris

Paris was a veritable furnace. London had been terrible. In no American city have I ever suffered such exhaustion from heat as I did in Paris in August, 1911. For some reason, heat in Europe is more depressing in its effect than it is in America. I do not know why, unless there is in Europe more moisture in the air; one reason doubtless is that European rooms are not commonly so airy as are American. In Paris I lived for a few days with two American friends, artists—James and Edna Hopkins. I was lucky to find them living there, because James Hopkins was a farmer’s son in Ohio before he became an artist of note, and he was glad to go with me to the country for a few days as my interpreter. Meanwhile, during my stay in their very charming studio home, I learned several things of interest. First let me mention that I learned the pleasure that comes from real simple living. The Hopkinses did not always keep a servant ; while I was with them they were without one. In all household duties, each took part, with the result that little time was wasted in “housekeeping.” Both are artists and both hard workers at their profession.

We used to get up early in the morning, while it was fairly cool, and I would sally out to find fruit for the morning meal. Paris has myriads of little shops, where one buys tomatoes, melons, peaches, butter and eggs. Some of these shops are better than others, and some of the women who keep them have reputations for greater honesty than do others.

One learns after a time where to buy. Here one can buy an egg, a tomato or a pear; I think he could even buy a cherry, although I never tried; but he evokes no smile if he buys one egg, one pear or one tomato. It is a land of retail dealing in minute quantities. I found prices much as they would be with us—perhaps a little dearer. A cantaloupe cost 40 cents, the dearest thing that I bought. A few tomatoes, weighed, of course, cost 20 cents. Bread was not dear, though dearer than with us; good butter was very dear. One morning I bought 20 cents worth for breakfast and ate nearly all of it myself at that meal, and I am considered a small eater. One could get delicious unsalted butter at these little markets.

When I would return to the studio, I would find breakfast ready and awaiting me. It consisted of oatmeal, coffee, toast and fruit. We did a lot of talking between bites; for we had ideas to burn, aching to be aired. It took about fifteen minutes to do the breakfast things; then we were at liberty to do the real work of the day. Luncheon at mid-day was an ideal meal, it seemed to me. Mrs. Hop-pins prepared it and it consisted usually of one thing only, with usually fruit as dessert. To pre-pare one dish is not dreadfully hard work, nor does it mean a great lot of utensils to clean up. In the evening we went to some restaurant. Thus the housekeeping did not much break into the Hopkins’ time and they were free to work. I could never see why women ordinarily prepare so many varieties of food at one time; one, two, or at the most three, should do as well, varying from day to day. I sup-pose that James Hopkins’ time was very valuable to himself, yet to get out into the country he consented to become again my interpreter. Once be-fore he had acted in that capacity, years ago, and I must here tell of that experience. Index Of Articles About Paris