What is so strange to me about this is that so many people consider Paris an ultimate vacation destination. I don’t know the statistics on this, but I bet well over half of Americans would list Paris in their top ten dream destinations. And yet here, a whole city of people who get to live here every single day cannot wait to leave–to go to New York City!
This begs the question–does anyone love where they live so very much that they don’t have the desire to leave it? And if so, where is that place? And how can I get a job there?
Today was an unplanned ‘spend the whole day outside’ day. We didn’t think to ourselves ‘hey, let’s have an outdoors day’, and I certainly didn’t include one in my now abandoned Official Trip Binder. But we overslept–again (at this rate we’ll never get to see Notre Dame from the inside) and decided to spend the morning at Pere Lachaise cemetary. We found an older version of the Rick Steves Paris book in the apartment (the 2006 version is much more comprehensive, with many more walking tours), so we took it along with us and followed the prescribed route. We’re very glad we did–that is, glad we went and glad we took the book. Without the book we’d never have found any of the graves we were ‘looking for’–I put that in quotes because really, the point of the trip was a famous dead person scavenger hunt. At this point in our trip, wandering through such a peaceful place was just what we needed. And the beautiful tombstones and crypts far outshone any of the Louvre’s statues. Something about artwork being in the environment it is meant for makes it more impressive. And it was artwork–beautiful stone and metal, much of it falling apart, much of it covered in moss.
And yes, before anyone asks, we did visit Jim Morrison. I had a poster of his grave on my wall in high school–I simply had to go there just because. So, apparently, did MANY other people. In fact, one teenage girl asked us if we spoke English, and then asked us if we knew where his grave was. We tried to explain and show her on our RS map, but her English wasn’t that good, so she decided just to follow us. She and her mother accompanied us to his unimpressive grave around which stood MANY people (the rest of the place was pretty dead–no pun intended) and then turned to ask us who Jim Morrison was! Yet another example of sightseeing as checklist, even if you don’t know what you are checking off of your list. We have tried to avoid this, but have not even been entirely successful. Hopefully you will soon hear about my husband’s mini breakdown at the Venus de Milo–in his own words.
We then took three–count them three–trains to a metro stop on the left bank for a Paris Walks tour. This was the first tour of its kind I have ever taken, and it will be the last. First–a travel tip. Never take a tour with the word ‘secret’ in the title. It is code for ‘shit noone cares about’. And we saw a lot of it. We did learn a lot of trivia about said shit, but again, we didn’t care. Additionally, there were some very interesting locations on the tour, but just as in a bus tour where they drive by the leaning tower and say–there it is–at seventy kilometers per hour, we couldn’t actually explore any of the places we saw. He pointed to–and talked about–the Paris Mosque, from across the street. We walked across a small corner of the Jardin des Plantes–which was beautiful–but we had to keep moving. He motioned toward the Latin Quarter, and then walked us up a hill to see part of an old Roman wall nestled in a not-so-quaint office building. If we got anything out of the tour, it was the burning off of any calories we’ve consumed since we’ve arrived (there were a LOT of hills, and we went really quickly) and the desire to go back to the Mosque for tea before exploring more of the Jardin.
As I write this, my next Paris experiement is under way–dinner. We stopped on our way home and picked up meat at the butcher, vegetables at the produce stand, and the husband grabbed some ravioli from the monprix along with our two daily bottles of red wine. It is currently simmering away in our postage stamp kitchen. It smells really good, so I have high hopes. But I also have seven or eight cafes and bistros within a block, so if it sucks, that’s ok too.