(The second installment of our 48 hours in Paris.)
The next morning we were off into the City of Light to see as much as possible on this, our only full day in Paris. But first, there was a knock at the door. A thought popped into my head: maybe the owner, who lives in the same building, was dropping off some fresh croissants.
Mais non! Apparently the previous night, upon hurling my body against the door in an attempt to open it, I had forgotten to remove the keys from the lock. ‘You left zee keys in zee door!’ the non-croissant-bearing owner fumed, before continuing, ‘and are zees your shoes? You cannot leave zem outside (the door) we have to respect zee neighbourhood!’
Chastened, we left the scene of the crime and stopped at a pastry shop that had been recommended to us. Followed by another stop at a different Monoprix for some bananas as well as a futile attempt to locate a restroom/wc/washroom/whatever. Desperate, I ducked into – yes – the Arc D’or, where I found a gentleman using the facilities behind an unlockable door, and another stall with an overwhelming smell. Clearly the Parisian McDonald’s don’t have the same white-paper-with-grid restroom cleaning schedules as their American counterparts.
My sister had purchased a coffee for me during my expedition. From the look on her face it was clear she had not struck [liquid] gold. One sip of the unrecognizable liquid and I dumped it in the trash, with a promise to recompense her.
We ambled along, through the Place des Vosges and Ile St. Louis to the Notre Dame, which never fails to impress. We took the metro to the Jardin du Luxembourg, where we sat down outside a prototypical Parisian restaurant and consumed more iterations of ham and cheese -crepe, croque Monsieur and quiche, all washed down with a bottle of $8 water.
Must remember to add ‘tap water is fine’ to my repertoire of French phrases.
Post-lunch we walked through the beautiful gardens (both cities get points for their amazing parks, London 5-Paris 2) and made our way to the church of st Sulpice which bears the dubious distinction of having [one of] the largest organs in the world. I think. More notable, at least to us, was the host of tiny chairs arranged in rows. Apparently church-going Parisians used to be the size of kindergarteners.
We continued with our undeclared quest to rack up as many fitbit steps as possible and headed towards the Louvre. En route we found a somewhat atypical tourist destination: the CityPharma on rue Bonaparte. I’d read about this destination pharmacie, favoured for its vast array of French skin care products. Eager for the opportunity to avail myself to this fountain of youth, I was ill-prepared for the amount of tourists carrying baskets in one hand and long lists in the other and, worst of all, the impossibly narrow aisles.
We three ladies have varying levels of claustrophobia (see previous comment about my sister being unwilling to get on the London Eye) so this was not exactly an ideal arrangement for any of us. My mom bailed almost immediately, waiting outside while my sister and I persevered with the hope we’d end up more radiant versions of ourselves as a result.
It was to be the only thing I purchased for myself on the trip: face cream.
(File under ‘eccentric preferences’, I guess.)
With the promise of hydrated skin in our shopping bag, we continued on to the Louvre, through the Tuileries and got on the metro. We ‘hopped’ off at the Arc de Triomphe for the sheer purpose of climbing hundreds of little steps to the top. The resulting view was more than worth it.
Afterwards, lured by the glittering lights on the facade, we walked across the street to Publicis Drugstore for some of Pierre Herme’s macarons, followed by a stop at the Eiffel Tower to witness the lighting of the tower. If you’re planning on witnessing this, the lights were turned on well before our planned-for 5:30pm. C’est dommage! Still, not a shabby sight.
We followed the lights to our final tourist attraction of the day: Galleries Lafayette, where we slumped into chairs in the food hall and inhaled some the three items we were able to identify on the Mediterranean menu en francais: hummus, some sort of rice-lentil salad, and a greek salad.
By the time we collapsed in a taxi, our friend Mr. fitbit had registered 23000 steps, a new trip record. The taxi ride proved to be a memorable one. I gave the driver the name of our street and sat back. My ever-vigilant sister noted he was driving a rather indirect route, and raised the issue, which resulted in all manner of displaisir on the driver’s part. ‘You have confidence in me,’ he demanded-asked, coupled with repeated offers to let us out and take another taxi. ‘Ees no problem for me.’
The French, as it turns out, do not want you to eat lentils on your bread plate, and they don’t want you to question their taxi driving. They also, above all, do not want you to move their refrigerators. ‘What happened to zee fridge,’ the owner gasped when she checked us out the next morning. I looked at the fridge to see if it had been damaged without my knowledge. As it turns out, in my struggle to open the door, I had moved the tiny fridge roughly eight inches away from its location against the wall. Quelle horreur!
Under her blazing eyes, I shifted the fridge back to its original spot. We parted ways feeling, as my mom put it, like children who’d been sent to the principal’s office.
Au revoir Paris!