Traveler’s tip #19: walk everywhere.
Three full days in Paris have passed and the soles of my feet are feeling the effects. I have focused on the Right Bank (and Ile de la Cite) since the last (and only) time I visited Paris I explored much of the Left Bank, only venturing across the Seine to get lost in the labyrinth that is the Louvre. So I have walked. And walked and walked. And walked some more.
Traveler’s fact #2567: you can never get lost, you can only take the scenic route.
After reaching certain destinations, I would let my curiosity take the helm as last-minute turns steered my way back to my apartment. When you’re not in a hurry, why rush? This way you see more then you ever knew was out there.
I have seen: beautiful architecture, metal framed windows, gloriously large wooden doors, old Parisian ladies, horizontally striped shirts, delicious window displays, museum exhibits, a newly-wed couple roller-blading down the street, historical buildings, green gardens, young lovers, old happy couples, interesting graffiti, many a tour group, the Tour Eiffel in the distance, Les Tuileries, random street art, Angelina’s tea room, L’as du Fallafel, bistro after bistro after bistro, Le Marche des Enfants Rouges, Notre Dame at night, the old Opera house, the collections in the Cabinet des Medailles, the wonders in the Louvre, the period rooms and other works in the Musee Carnavalet, the Bibliotheque Forney (in the Hotel de Sens), scooters ridden on sidewalks, designer boutiques, capoeira street performers in the Latin Quarter, the Pompidou, beach volleyball set up in front of the Hotel de Ville, the Bastille Opera House, a fake beach on the Seine, the flower market on Ile de la Cite, the National Archives building and garden…
And as you walk you smell the city. Much of it pleasant (aromas wafting from the open doors of the patisseries, the mingled smell of produce in the markets, the dense musk of red wine before you take a sip, the fried fragrance of street vendors’ foods, the oddly fragrant smell that permeates leather stores) and some of it not so pleasant (the unfortunately numerous homeless persons who dot the boulevards, the stink from the sewers, the ever-present stench of cigarette smoke). All of this mingles into the smell of a city, and combined with the sights and sounds and ever-present hustle of locals getting to work (yes, even in August when much of France is on Holiday) and tourists seeking their next destination of exploration, it is all an experience I would never forego just to more easily get from here to there via metro.
I have yet to explore and re-explore the left bank or walk along the Champs Elysees or Saint Germain des Pres, or go even further afield to Chartres (tomorrow’s plan) or Versailles (Monday’s plan), but I have another whole week to check everything off my list. And yes, I am also working on my dissertation. My first day here I saw the vases in the Cabinet des Medailles, and my second day here I spent my time the Louvre (which is closed on Tuesdays so I was alone), examining the vases in the galleries, the study rooms, and the storerooms (60 in total! Whew!). Today is full of sitting at my computer, organizing my notes from the museums and all the thoughts that popped into my head since I’ve landed in Europe. There is much work to do, and many questions to pose and answer (or try to answer), but I am plugging along. I *was* planning to run to Sacre Coeur and back today (about 4 miles round-trip), but then the weather changed my plans. As I type, a steady downpour is hitting the courtyard outside my window, and I’m glad I stayed inside (with my lovely friends: wine and cheese).