Good morning, America! Tracey said I should call this post “the day of surprises” because we were surprised at how far we could walk (hours and hours), surprised at how often we needed to go to the ATM, surprised that we could be taken in by a gypsy (we weren’t paying attention, but she only got 2 euros out of me), surprised at how extraordinarily beautiful this city is on a summer night.
We walked by the Hotel des Invalides, a massive Napoleonic, gorgeous building and then crossed my favorite bridge (see above), the Alexandre III, to the other side of the Seine. If Will Kelley, the family military historian, is ever in Paris, he can go INTO Invalides, which houses a military museum and Napoleon’s tomb, but we just enjoyed the outside.
The best part, of course, is the people watching: a chic grandma having un cafe and a cigarette with her beautiful 7-year-old grandson chatting away with her; the many outfits on young women that Caroline would love to wear; the single guy carrying his motorbike helmet and sitting down to read his book and have a coffee… marvelous. We met the girls at 2 and wandered “home” on foot, desperate for a bathroom. Where are the toilets in Paris????
After a rest for our feet, we walked to the base of the Eiffel Tower for a 7 pm “Fat Tire Bike Tour” of night-time Paris. Rebecca Williams told us this was the highlight of her recent trip–and yes, it was really fun. Even though it broke the commandment of not looking too American:
The tour was pretty long but very fun toodling along the streets of Paris en masse. There were a few crazy moments, such as when the bus driver behind the group (I was at the back with Dave, the back leader) beeped and tried to get us to move aside. Dave said, “you can’t do that” and intentionally moved to the middle of the lane and stayed behind me. The driver, I mean it, was only 4 inches off his back wheel!
Then we got onto a river cruise when it was finally getting dark and wow, this is when Paris became amazingly beautiful.
My travelling companions are eager to get moving to go to the Louvre, so I’ll finish this up with just photos of the river cruise. Our tour guides, Dave and Megan, poured red wine into little plastic cups as we went. We made lots of friends and I started to understand why some people adore Paris.