Saturday, 1 May 2010
At Charles de Gaulle airport they were handing out sprigs of lily of the valley. In Paris lily of the valley was for sale on every corner. It is a custom to give a sprig of this flower on the 1st of May. After dumping our suitcases in the apartment we ventured out to see the changes in our neighbourhood and I bought a bunch of muguet de bois, the French for lily of the valley. The man selling it assured me it was from the forest, showing me his dirty broken fingernails to prove that he, and his wife, who was selling bunches on the opposite street corner had picked it themselves, although I didn't check her fingernails. Every year they drive all night to reach Paris and sell their harvest. Even at 2 euros a bunch there must be enough tax free euros involved to make his trip and the necessary follow up manicure worthwhile. His lily of the valley was wonderfully fragrant and I joined all the other Parisians carrying home a bunch of lily of the valley.