With only two days and a bit in Paris, there was no time to lose. So after checking into our hotel and enjoying a great meal at the French restaurant one door down, we set off for a nighttime boat tour of Paris.
Marilynn thought it would be a great way to get the lay of the land and see many of the famous sights, especially the Eiffel Tower at night. The temperature was brisk, yet tolerable, so we chose seats at the back of the boat with operable windows. Although other families were seated in a single row, the family in front of us was taking up three rows, with dad and daughter in one row, mom in second and son on the back.
Down in front
I thought nothing of it until we reached the Eiffel Tower, when mom proceeded to stand up in front of us to take pictures. Bear in mind, the windows were wide and open, and no one else was standing. You’d have thought she was recording an historic event, the fervor with which she was taking pictures (and blocking our view).
And then 9 o’clock struck, and the monument started pulsating like a spastic disco ball. The mom went wild, snapping photo after photo. For a moment there, I thought she was going to start talking to the monument, telling it to smile and look sexy for the camera.
At least we could check the Eiffel Tower off our list, knowing we didn’t have to get any closer to the monument or anywhere near that family again.
Early in the morning
The next morning, we visited Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle as they opened before returning to the area around our hotel. Grabbing takeaway at a patisserie and having a picnic is how the French have lunch, so we followed the crowd to the ancient Roman arena behind our hotel. A dozen children were either playing football or running around under the watchful eyes of their parents. We spent the rest of the day at the natural history museum and walking through the adjacent botanical garden, Jardin des Plantes.
Our final day also started early with a visit to the Musee D’Orsay. We had no firm plans for the rest of our day, but no one seemed enthused by the prospect of a bus tour. However, I did want to glimpse the Arc de Triomphe, so we walked down the Champs-Élysées far enough to see it. Declan was keen to visit La Chapelle, better known as the Sri Lankan part of town, so we found a Metro station and headed there.
We visited several ethnic grocery stores, guessing what certain food items were and taking in the sumptuous smells and seeing the sights. Did you know there are Hell’s Angels in France? We didn’t either, but they have a clubhouse in that part of town. We had a snack in an Indian restaurant, where Marilynn and I split a half-bottle of wine because it was nearly as cheap as tea.
For dinner, we returned to the same restaurant we visited the first night, owned by a friendly, gracious man who also serves as waiter. The restaurant only seats two dozen, and it features a limited menu at a set price. Declan wanted to try escargot, so he ordered them as his starter, but we all tried them. Declan said they tasted like mussels, and he’s not wrong. I wondered how much of the taste was sauce and how much was snail.
Our final night in Paris also ended early, because an 11-hour train and bus journey to Prague awaits us. But I wake up confident that obtrusive photo mom will be nowhere in sight.