When I first visited France I discovered Gini, the citrus soft drink created by Perrier. It is the best soft drink in the world. I need not consult market analysis to know this. I simply drink it and my universe expands. Gini is a slightly bitter, lemon-lime drink. You can't get it in America. I've actually called the company to ask if I could import it. As soft drinks go, it's not terribly old, having been created in 1971. The brand has made its way through sales and spinoffs and mergers. Orangina Schweppes owns it now. Serge Gainsbourg wrote a song about it called "Gini, je t’aime, Gini je t’adore". (http://youtu.be/ElxSDb7IBwg)
My wife and I rented velibs near Luxembourg Gardens, I had a little tourist map that I put in the bike basket. It was late in the evening, getting dark, but I was pretty sure I knew where I was going, and we had the map. Until it flew out of the basket and disappeared over a fence while we were speeding down a hill. No problem; my iPhone has a nifty little map application. But my iPhone needs a decent battery charge to work, and the battery life was dwindling, going, gone. So there we were -- somewhere -- riding bicycles in the dusk-becoming-dark, without a map, and the adventure of it became our destination.
We stopped worrying about getting somewhere and just enjoyed the lengthening shadows. After pedaling madly for a time we stopped at a little grocery store and I spied the life-affirming Gini in the cooler. I felt like Popeye eating spinach; after quaffing that luscious liquid, I could take on anything. We hopped back on the velibs, dashed through the Paris traffic. We crossed the Seine, and at some point I recognized the Palmier Fountain in the Place du Châtelet, with its sphinx fountains spitting water. I took a picture of one against the steel grey sky.
It turned out not to be the only Egyptian motif I found in Paris, as I stumbled across a live mummy sitting on a park bench a couple of days later. Eventually my wife and I found our hotel, took a shower, and had dinner at La Coupole in Montparnasse, a delightful slice of old-school Paris. Our waiter was hilarious, and the food was delicious. But we might not have made it except for Gini, that hottest of all cold drinks.
About Dean Seabrook
I lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest of America. I have worked on Wall Street, in advertising, as a screenwriter in Hollywood, and as a lighting designer in theatre and dance. I first went to Paris to participate in the Paris Writers Retreat, a workshop I first attended in Provence. My wife and I now run a small business called Area Artifacts. We find, recover, repurpose and renew interesting artifacts and objects from around the world.