In my last post, I referenced Sammuel Johnson who said that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. True, I was not ready to leave London after spending just four days there, but our next stop was Paris, a city I had also always wanted to visit.
G.K. Chesterton suggested, “London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.” Yet, when I think back to the elderly Parisian waiter who winced after I followed my “Bonjour” with “Uh, can I please have a hamburger?” my lack of command of the high school French I once took seems more puzzling to me. A comedian I went to see once commented that if he needed help or were being mugged in France, he would only be able to shout colors and numbers at his attacker: “Deux! Bleu!” I wondered if it would come to that.
This time, I was able to stay with my tour group without getting lost. However, on the last night a couple of us decided to go out. It was around midnight and all three of my friends had put their tickets in the slot and made their way through the subway (aka the tube) barrier. My ticket refused to work, along with all three of their tickets, which they handed me from the other side of the barrier. The last train was leaving soon so I had to choose between remaining stranded on the other end or losing my dignity and struggling to climb over it. I chose the latter option and made the train. Shortly afterward, while still completely sober, I tripped up the stairs and skinned my knee. Where would this night take us?
Later, we went to a peaceful cafe where a few of us split a bottle of wine and others got cocktails. To summarize, one of my favorite parts of the evening was the conversations with our cab driver, who got incredibly lost, on the ride home, which my friend recorded. After informing us he was divorced several times with no children, I told him “Good,” then went on to describe the song “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” to him. “It’s like, you’ve got all of these problems, but a woman or a child isn’t one,” I so gracefully informed him. In the meantime, our other friend continually shouted from the back, “I need to get out of this cab! I can’t hold it any longer!” Our cab driver was sweet enough to pull over for her by some shrubbery, then made a scribbling notion to inform her that she had to be fast or else she might get a ticket. That man deserves a dozen merci’s.
As I mentioned in my post on London, I have a general travel bucket list of countries I want to visit, rather than bucket lists of specific items I’d like to complete in each city. Yet, I still had a mental checklist of places or activities I wanted to pursue. I’ve listed them below:
1). Ride the Eurostar:
I’ve always wanted to ride this magic train, though I was a bit confused as to why no one came around with a Trolley offering chocolate frogs or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Maybe that’s only for passengers traveling to London…
2). Visit Notre Dame de Paris:
While we didn’t go inside, getting to see the outside of this beautiful church was enough of a treat for me.
3). Eat a crepe:
Or eat many crepes for that matter, packed with Nutella and coconut or chicken, mushrooms, and cheese, or… *drools.*
4). Go to an authentic bistro dinner and try escargot:
Well, technically it was my second time eating a snail, as I remember going on a date with a guy many moons ago and, because I’m a pushover, allowing my date to convince me to eat one. Anyways, escargot is actually quite good as long as you have a few glasses of wine first and block out the thought of what you’re eating. Then again, I’m not very picky.
5). See the Fireworks in front of the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day, or, France’s Independence Day:
After our bistro dinner, those of us who wanted to see the fireworks were all a bit loaded with wine and sprinted to the Eiffel Tower so we could see the fireworks. Boy am I glad we did. These fireworks, along with the music that accompanied them, was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Typically, I am so sucked into social media that I have to take photos of everything, but for once there were moments I had to just put down my camera and watch. If you ever want to visit France, go on Bastille Day and watch the fireworks!
6). Eat macaroons:
Another girl on our trip said every single day how all she wanted was a macaroon. I’d never had a macaroon before and kept picturing some type of small nut until she finally purchased them. After she got them, we all went back into the store to purchase our own. I went with coffee and chocolate flavored macaroons. Très délicieux.
7). Go to Paris’ sex district, see Moulin Rouge, and a cabaret show:
While we weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, this night was certainly a sight to see between the sex shops that offered porno Américain and the Eiffel Tower dildos on sale for $69, which caused our lovely British tour director to comment, “I would imagine that would hurt quite a bit.” The show was also a spectacle and complete with free champagne. A comedian, topless women, and a laser show were just some of the skits, the latter causing the one male who came with us to comment, “I thought I was excited about the topless women, but that laser spectacle just stole the show.” At one point several men from the audience were called up for a dancing contest. The votes were unanimous for Joe, an elderly man from Florida. His prize? A topless bride who took him backstage, until he returned to the stage with a baby doll in a white dress. The host told Joe’s wife sitting in the audience that she’d keep the baby for her. How sweet.
8). Visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa: While I am not much of an art person, getting to see the Mona Lisa was still exciting. Getting pushed by tourists who sometimes, coerced their children to push past everyone or in one case, told their child to pretend they were lost, then inched their way up to the front with said child, was not. Nevertheless, I was still surprised at how close up we were able to get. At first I was disappointed I couldn’t pull off a Mona Lisa selfie, then scolded myself, as well as my generation for being disappointed about that.
9). Put a lock on the lovelock bridge: Although I found out that the police remove the locks every couple of months because they cause destruction to the bridge, I still love concepts like this one and decided to dedicate a lock on the bridge to my grandparents.
Trowing our keys into the Seine.
10). Visit the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore: I love bookstores. This one, which was replete with ladders going up to the books, authentic typewriters, and many of the classics, absolutely made my day. I told my friend, “I’m going to be a big nerd for a second and ask if you can get my picture in front of the store.” #EnglishMajorNerd
11). Get a photo “holding” the Louvre Pyramid: All those crepes gave me super strength.
12). Climb the Eiffel Tower (aka ride an elevator to the top): I have to be honest. We didn’t get to climb (ride an elevator) to the very top because it was closed the day we went. However, making it to the middle of the Eiffel Tower was still absolutely incredible, as was the view.
13). Take a river cruises at night on the Seine River: Cruising along and watching people have picnics by the river, the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night, and in general, France at nighttime was extremely peaceful.
14). Sit in front of the Eiffel Tower and have a beer: There are vendors that wander around the lawns in front of the Eiffel tower selling beer, wine, etc. We were waiting to go on our river cruise and later planned on going out that night, so when they came around to us and two of the guys got a beer, I got on too. When in Paris, right?
15). Have lunch at a French café: After walking around the Eiffel Tower that day and doing plenty of walking tours, some of us decided it would be nice to have a sit down lunch. Although I was not very French and wound up getting a hamburger (though it did come with French fries!), it was nice just taking in the scenery.
The entire time we were in France, I had a song we used to sing in my high school French class stuck in my head: “Aux Champs Élysées,” an avenue known for its various shops, cafes, etc. Some of you might recognize the area from The Devil Wears Prada. I was thrilled when one day, our tour director took us down that road, which I had been hoping to see. Check! I was ready to head onto our next destination.