The relaxed pace ended the morning after Grace arrived. Since she had only the weekend before she returned to her studies in Sevilla, we bought our on-and-off-bus pass as a way to navigate the city and the race was on.
Kellee and I didn’t go everywhere Grace and Mary went.
We didn’t climb the Eiffel Tower or even the Arc de Triomphe. But I walked enough steps to know that there aren’t good enough shoes to keep my feet happy.
We met them most everywhere and enjoyed a lot of places together. And we drank coffee, ate, and drank together a lot. Grace tasted Escargot. Mary enjoyed warm goat cheese (a lot!) and we loved the lamb shanks. The Salade Niçoise in France cannot be equaled. But my best memory of food in Paris is of Kellee’s stir-fried mixed greens with onions served with baked sweet potatoes for breakfast in the apartment. It was so refreshing to have our fill of vegetables.
We divided and conquered, too. I spent one morning looking for the famous flower market and was either in the wrong place or just underimpressed. There were only potted plants in permanent nurseries when I was expecting a block of cut flowers.
Mary visited the Louvre for a look at the Mona Lisa and I went there alone, too. (Probably the last time.) Kellee wandered back to the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise for a better look at some of the graves.
Mary’s wonderful “Selfie Stick” gave us a record of our visits the Musee d’Orsay, L’Orangerie, the Rodin Museum. At Montmarte Kellee and I waited at a sidewalk coffee shop gazing at the vista of the Sacré-Coeur. When Mary and Grace arrived we climbed to the winding stairs to the church, where Kellee and I watched people as Mary and Grace went inside to explore.
After Grace went back to Spain, we searched for the unusual and out-of-the way. The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, is a moving tribute to the Jews taken from their homes in World War II. (Photos are prohibited.) And spent time in the museum that houses Napoleon’s tomb. Kellee and Mary loved the Hôtel Carnavalet, a museum dedicated to the history of Paris. We happened onto street markets, and circled and circled until we located the Marché des Enfants Rouges and could have lunch.
We mastered the subway, walked the Avenue des Champs-Élysees, revisited the Eiffel Tower, and still had time to have wine and cheese by the water and then stroll the Seine after dark.
For me there were changes…or lapses in memory. The Champs-Elyées has lost it’s charm for me in it’s transformation into a street of American shops among the international*. I remembered it for the restaurants serving moulés rather than the retail stores and pizza shops that line the boulevard. Now it is unrivaled as Paris’ Times Square.
Another marked change was the everyday dress on the streets. Parisians have seemingly dressed down to match the rest of the world.
There’s a Japanese restaurant at least every two blocks in Paris.
The Marais is a great place to feel the local energy and look at art galleries.
The Louvre, although housing a breathtaking array of art is, as it always was, big, crowded, hard-edged, and exhausting.
The mix of people is fascinating…no seeming segregation of races, religions, colors…on the streets.
There is no place like Paris for fashion in the shop windows.
This city knows how to move people around.
Watching people from a table at a sidewalk café is still my favorite pastime in Paris.