So it’s good-bye to the City of Lights and Love, and on to Spain.
But a few thoughts before I leave. First of all, the number of motorcycles and scooters. Incroyable. The motorcycles will happily zip across a sidewalk (or through a sidewalk cafe) to cut a corner. There is a company in town that rents electric scooters. And when they run out of power? Adieu! They just leave them on the side of the road (or weirdly, the side of the Metro line). Someone must come around and collect them, but yanno, it’s always a shock to see them on the sidewalk waiting for their owner to come and get them. And believe moi — they are everywhere!
And, as DH pointed out, there are hardly any big cars. Even the expensive cars are just mid-sized, not a lot of SUVs on les rues et boulevards.
Next: The Paris Museum pass. DD got one for each of us, but only us wrinkly ones got the full use of it. It’s great for cutting in line at the major museums and the Arc de Triomphe, but if you have small kids, forget it. You won’t get your money’s worth. But for us old timers, c’est magnifique!
Le Metro: definitely the best way to get around Paris. I learned it in a heartbeat, but if you need a little assistance just use your Google maps. It’s swell. And DH was amazed to learn the origin of the Subway tiles we have in our shower. It connects with all the rail lines and gets you where you want to be toute de suite. Any city’s transit can learn from the Paris Metro. But……it’s not very accessible. You especially notice it when you are schlepping a suitcase with you, but there are a LOT of stairs and not many escalators (escaliers mechaniques).
The people: warm and friendly and so helpful. I was waiting for the sneers when I started lurching through my high-school French sentences but everyone seemed thrilled to be able to practise their English (including the nice lady on the Metro today when I admitted that “je admire votre sac”, and was told “Thank You!”).
The food: We had wonderful meals in the restaurants we went to (being thrifty, we hit them up at lunch when the table d’hote is cheaper–watch out for the “formules”, the specials–but when we shopped at the supermarket we were disappointed. Yes the bread and fresh fruits and vegetables are formidable, but the market we frequented had practically no prepared food. It was in a working-class neighbourhood and the people were looking for good food they could prepare at home, not pre-packaged frozen treats. Quel domage!
Shutters: We were expecting all the street-level shops to have shutters that closed at the end of the business day, but the houses and apartments had shutters on their windows, too. The were great for security, but also great for completely blocking the sunlight when you wanted to have a lie in after sunrise. I’d love to have some on our little place as we have no room for drapes inside.
The art: fantastique! If you have to choose between going to the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay, go to the D’Orsay. You get more out of it, in square meterage. But I hope you don’t have to choose.
We didn’t see everything on our list — but you could be here for years and still not see everything. We saw what we really wanted (yes, I know we didn’t visit Chopin’s grave at Pere LaChaise, but I don’t love Chopin) and left satisfied.
The fact is that this is our one and only chance to visit this city. DD and family can look forward to coming back as many times as she wishes, but for us there are too many other places to visit to backtrack on our world travels. But we are satisfied that we got as much out of Paris as we wanted.
Au revoir, Paris!