Ah, Paris! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! One, two three, four…there are too many to name! In my three days in Paris I did and saw many of the typical “touristy” sites but I also took the time to explore the many neighborhoods/districts, or arrondisements, of Paris by foot and by bike. I strolled along the Seine taking in the sights of the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame and more. What a beautiful city! I took a walking tour through the right bank of Paris, visiting some of the wealthiest parts of the city. I dined at an outdoor café, people-watched and spoke more French than I knew I could! My absolute favorite part of Paris was everyday around 5pm when the streets were filled with people on their way home from work, and nearly everyone you saw had a loaf of freshly baked French bread in their hands having just picked it up at the bakery.
One of my favorite things that I did while in Paris was the picnic that I had in the Jardin de Luxemborg. I took a seat just in front of the railing overlooking the giant pond/fountain. The park was filled with tourists taking in the sights, Parisians on their lunch break, students on field trips and kids running toy ships across the pond. It was so warm sitting in the sun that I had to take off my layers and was still baking in the heat! So lovely!
I, of course, visited the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I’m glad I visited the Eiffel Tower when I did because the day after I was there a bomb threat was called in and a suspicious package was found at the base of the Tower, it was evacuated and shut down for two hours. I would not have wanted to have been the first one back up the Tower! But when I went everything was fine, the day was gorgeous and you could see for miles! I opted for the walk-up option rather than taking the elevator and I walked up to the 1st platform and eventually to the 2nd platform, which is probably about half way up the Tower. I was perfectly happy there and did not see the need to go all the way to the top. The views were amazing and kept getting better as I rounded each corner. My favorite view was looking out over the Seine that ran as far as the eye could see. The sun was glistening off the water and the buildings were reflecting into the river. Gorgeous! As I walked away from the park I couldn’t help but keep turning around, each time surprised by the sheer size and magnitude of this amazing structure that was hovering over the city. At the Louvre I saw the essentials, the Venus de Milo and the Monna Lisa, and reached my art museum threshold shortly thereafter and left. The sheer size of the Louvre is incredible. There are 450,000 pieces of art displayed in 30 miles of halls. If you were to spend 1 minute on each piece of art you would spend something like 1 year of your life, no eating or sleeping, at the Louvre. Amazing! The buildings just go on and on and on, which is in and of itself pretty neat.
I went to the funniest, and only, show in Paris in English. It was a one-man show called How to Become Parisian in One Hour. The show started late, of course – Parisian time! He made fun of Americans and Parisians while taking us through 8 ways to act Parisian instead of American. So funny!
The most romantic thing I saw in Paris was a fence on the bridge crossing the river which has become known as the Love Lock bridge. The mesh fence is filled with padlocks, some decorated and some not, that are inscribed with two lovers names who have sealed their love and thrown the key into the Seine.
The biggest shock to me was being met at the train station, and at the Eiffel Tower, and at the Louvre, and many other places by militia in camouflage and berets carrying machine guns with their fingers dangerously close to the trigger. That’s a little different than my usual day-to-day!