Stealing away to a foreign country is exciting in itself—but having an entire day “of nothing planned” at my fingertips is an unusual and amazing feat. Instead of whiling it away lazily on a couch with cable—here we were in Paris!
We started the day off with a lovely slow breakfast at Café le Bosquet, just a walk away from the Eiffel Tower. We sat on the café patio, steps from the sidewalk, tucked out of the drizzle (yep, still raining), and soaked up our existential continental breakfast (coffee with milk, croissant, butter and jam). Considering the notorious American stories of “bad service” in Paris, I think it may be simply misunderstood. It’s a slower pace than any Silicon Valley rush-junkie is used to (like me). There is a definitive tonal difference to your day when you sit and watch people go by, whilst waiting patiently for a coffee with milk vs. standing in a loud, clanging, bustling line at Starbucks and rushing out the door with a to-go cup.
And after reading Mr. Steve’s book, it was clear; Parisians have their own rhythm. The worst thing you can do … is rush this city.
Balancing limited time with all the things we were eager to see was our biggest challenge on this trip. We also viscerally realized why everyone in the city is so thin. They walk everywhere! And so did we —to the Eiffel Tower, which amazed us not just in its height and sturdiness, but with how many people from all over the world were there to see it. The third floor was the most amazing, especially as the tower swayed slightly in the breeze (*gulp*).
A travel note here: make sure your book your tickets to the Eiffel Tower ahead of time. We got many a jealous glare as we whizzed through the queues because we had bought our tickets a few days ahead of time (thank you again, Sharon!). We still had to wait on the second floor to go to the tippy-top, but that gave me plenty of time to do my deep breathing anti-panic exercises before the teeny-tiny elevator took us up!
Promptly after, we marched off to the Arc de Triomphe and watched the popular Parisian motorsports of driving haphazardly in multiple lanes in a circle. There were gaggles of tourists standing around flabbergasted at how crazy the traffic was all crisscrossed with honking and gesturing, as well as admiring the architecture and seeing the flame of the Unknown Soldier.
We walked even more (yep, my feet were getting crazy tired already after milling about for nearly four hours …), we went down one of the main streets in Paris and walked past Gucci and Armani and the like. Nope … no shopping for me (I mean, it’s not like I’m getting paid for this blog! Though, I did peek in the windows). We finally had to take a break and stop for a drink at a spot on the avenue, Pub Kleber … did you know that the Bloody Mary was created in Paris? Of course, that helped my aching feet.
By the late afternoon, we’d wound our way to the Grand Palais, where we unexpectedly stumbled upon a Helmut Newton exhibit. Spectacular find! We got to see a fine mixture between his work for Vogue (where at one point he was fired for being too artsy), and his other more artistic work (think really cool and unconventional). He must have been an inspiration for Madonna’s early nineties tours.
Finally, we would up at the Pont Alexander Bridge III and looked out over the Seine. We stopped here to rest and soak in the closing of the day. Exhausted from walking miles through streets and museums, but inspired by the beauty, we were hopeful to find a dinner that could match the visual spectacular-ness of the day … despite the fact that yes; we were still standing with umbrellas in the rain.