The second day in Paris we walked to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph. To be fashionably woogie-ish we had lunch on Champs de Elise (Of course now I say it “shan-say leee-zay” because I’m learning French finally and I’m sophisticated like that. My old stupid American self said it just like it’s spelled.) The Champs de Elise was fun and interesting but just as the guidebooks warned, the population is made up of mostly tourists. The stores are very similar to the ones we have in the big fancy mall at home. Except they are on French steroids of course. Everyone speaks English.
We stopped in one store I’d never seen before. A gourmet food and chocolate store called Faschon. It’s like a William Sonoma with a fantastic offering of fine chocolates, and cookies that go with tea. Everything is wrapped up in the most amazing packaging. I bought a box of cookies for 10 euros just because I like the pink tin they come in. I’m in love with the packaging. Maybe I should move to Paris and become a package designer. I find myself thinking about moving to Paris at least once a day.
After a lunch of salad with corn, chicken and green beans (right out of a can), we took in the view from the top of the Arc de Triumph and headed over to the Eiffel Tour. You know how much I love the Eiffel Tower? You know how it symbolizes Paris and it is oh-so-romantic and all that? Well, I fell out of love with the Eiffel Tower. I still think of it fondly but our relationship is on the rocks.
It’s a very impressive structure and the gardens and the public areas around it are beautiful. Everywhere you look the lawns are full of people lounging the day away. There are skate boarders flying off ramps and jumping over poles, there are children playing in the public fountains, there are lovers kissing and roller bladers holding hands… I could stay all day just watching people. It’s the waiting in line in the sun with five zillion other tourists that I could do without. So with just a tiny tinge of regret I’m adding the Eiffel Tower to my list of monuments I’ve seen but was too wimpy to go to the top of.
It’s just the crowds, and the heat and smelliness of bodies cramming all together in small spaces. We waited in a line for an hour or so, crammed onto a elevator (which would be fun if I could make myself to the edge and look out but of course I was stuck in the middle hanging onto the bar overhead for dear life) rode up to the second level (they advised us to skip the top since the wait was twice as long and the sky hazy), walked around and saw the view (which was impressive but no more so than the top of the Arc de Triumph) and then rode back down again.
I prefer the Eiffel Tower in the Paris skyline better than I do up close.
I wake up in the morning and immediately open our balcony window. (We close it at night because the “beeeeeh bohhhhh beeeeeh bohhhhh” sirens make us feel like we’re in a Jason Bourne movie. I love the sound but it is a bit hard to sleep to.) From our window I can see the sun making it’s way down the narrow cobbled streets. The shops are closed and the vespa scooters line up like bikes in a elementary school bike rack on the sidewalk below. There is no hustle and bustle in the early morning. Everyone is still sleeping at least until 10 am.
This morning was May Day so there were a few flower sellers on the street selling little bouquets of Lilly of the Valley for about three Euros. (They got cheaper as the day went on and got a little less fresh.) May Day is a big day in Paris and apparently the custom is to buy your sweetheart, or someone special, flowers for good luck. Maybe it’s a bit like valentines. I’m not sure. But I do know everyone was carrying them. A cute gay bartender in the bar I visited to get my internet fix had several of them lined up along his cash register. Either he likes flowers or he is the sweetheart of the neighborhood.
The only person who doesn’t sleep in the early morning is the baker. The boulangeries are open at the crack of dawn and you can smell sweet things baking as you walk by them on the street. My Mom and I keep telling ourselves that we are going to buy some croissants and baguettes to munch on later in the day when we are hungry but our hotel breakfast is so good we don’t remember to go until afternoon! At 8am our breakfast is brought to our door. There is a packet of hot chocolate, a pitcher of steamed milk, a pitcher of deliciously strong coffee, two croissants, two bagguettes, two plain flavored yogurts, some cheeses (which by the way, I’ve figured out I love Chambray) and jam and butter. We smear the soft chambray cheese on our bread and mix the jam in with the yogurt to make it sweet. It’s delicious. Why don’t I ever eat these sorts of things at home?