Jul 22, 2012

Notre Retour a Paris

Mom and I are in Paris for a week--this is my first return since the year I lived here (16 years ago). We had a wonderful first full day today.  The city is even more gorgeous than I remember. Amazing architecture is around every corner (especially when traveling on a bike, which we were all day).  The people's appreciation of life and pleasure remains apparent.  If you stop and watch people on any given corner, you'll find lots of other people doing exactly that--just hanging out and watching the world go by. No rush. Our first night, we went for a walk on the isles (islands) in the middle of the Seine. There were people of all ages outside, playing petanque (kind of like boce) in a compacted dirt park, having a picnic next to the Seine, lounging on the imported-sand beaches next to the river, and eating and drinking at cafes.

Some things feel different from 16 years ago--much more multiethnic, more friendly (people often approach us when we have the map out and offer to help us out), and more colorful clothing (I finally don't stand out and am no longer mistaken for a German).  Oh, and the bikes--they are available on so many street  corners for rent through a machine, all set up by the government (there are also occasionally spots where you can rent an electric car off the street). Then when you're done with your bike, you can just drop it off at the nearest station. This sort of sportif spirit is very new--I remember how people thought I was absolutely nuts when I lived here and jogged by--waiters all dressed up in bow ties would jog in place at their outside cafes and laugh as I passed them.  People just didn't exercise, at least in public.  Now they block off entire roads on Sunday for only biking and walking.  Tres civilise!

Today was the final stretch of the Tour de France and we were there when they cycled up and down the Champs Elyesees right near the Arc de Triomphe. We didn't get a great view because of the crowds, but it was still fun.  



 
Poop sprayers still clean the street in the morning.

The Place des Vosges is right around the corner from us.


Lunch at a market was a turkey kabab, quiche and salads.


You can just make out the racers here. 

The Arc de Triomphe

Us on our bikes outside l'Opera, which I often walked by on my commute home when I lived here.

A peak up at Sacre Coeur and Mont Martre--I would sometimes detour for this view and today we just happened upon it--what a treat!

Yaourt pruneau (prune yogurt) was one of my old staples--I had a cup of it the first night here.  We also got rhubard, cranberry, and fig flavors.  I love the French!

We just thought this was cool. You can make up your own caption.