“I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now…I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” ― Ernest Hemingway
We got up on Saturday morning and wandered our local neighbourhood. We exchanged money and opted for the French experience of having breakfast at the outside patio of a café. We considered ordering just one crepe but decided on a sweet crepe and a savoury crêpe and sharing them both. It was definitely the right choice. It’s funny, the difference between the life you imagine and the life you live… Sometimes you imagine these experiences that you build up and picture and plan out, and the lived experience is completely ordinary and mundane, and you wonder where the fantasy came from. This was not that. We sat at our tiny table, listening to couples and friends around us speaking a variety of languages. We watched vehicles and people pass by as we ate together. It was simple, but beautiful and interesting.
From there, we took a scenic route in the direction of Arc de Triomphe. Once again, we found ourselves on a beautiful roadway divided by green space in the middle, lined with trees. We enjoyed walking through a local street market, full of fresh vegetables and meats, and beautiful herbs, and agreed to get our own place with a kitchen next time. We both crave the experience of living like a local: perusing the markets, picking out our own fresh ingredients, enjoying the walk back to our apartment to try a new recipe. I am excited for the next trip already!
Our walk landed us in a famous bagel place where we unintentionally ordered two bagels. We took them to Parc Monceau, a large and lush park that reminded me a lot of Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC. It is a hundreds of years old park in the 8th Arrondissement and in addition to being a peaceful oasis, has added character in the form of sculptures, stunning iron entrance gates, and a beautiful manmade waterfall that flows into a manicured garden space. As we sat by a pond with our bagels, a small boy and his father came by. We laughed as he yelled “canard, canard! (duck, duck!)” over and over again. His excitement was contagious. I don’t think we’d ever seen someone quite as thrilled to see ducks before! When we had finished eating, we walked through the park, trying to find some shade, and saw a few interesting structures that looked absolutely ancient. We couldn’t decide if they were actually old or had been made to look that way for atmosphere, which was a funny idea as Paris is overflowing with atmosphere as it is.
From there, having already hit close to 15,000 steps for the day, we hopped on a bus for the final leg to the Arc. It is in the middle of a massive roundabout, so you can’t just cross the street to it. Instead, you go down stairs and walk through an underground tunnel, which I must say is so much smarter than an overpass. Can you imagine seeing the Arc de Triomphe with an overpass in the background? Tacky, right? But let’s focus on what matters: it was incredible.
After that, I confess that it was a bit of a let-down to walk down the famous Champs-Élysées. It was a more majestic version of Robson Street with all high-end shops: beautiful, sure, but Troy and I agreed that there could’ve been much better ways to spend our day. If you are really into shopping, you might love it. All we saw was an incredibly commercial, overpriced row of shops that happened to have well-maintained trees lining it’s very wide (and crowded) sidewalks. After all of that walking (around 25,000 steps in total) it was time to head back to the hotel to relax for a bit.
In the early evening, we returned to favourite shop for picnic food, and had to get a bit creative. They didn’t have any of our favourite salad, so instead we bought a packaged buffalo mozzarella, a side of the pesto, some fresh heirloom tomatoes and a cantaloupe to recreate it. We also picked up some olives, a sourdough baguette from the amazing bakery we had found on Friday, and while I was back at the hotel cutting up cantaloupe in the lounge with a butter knife (yes, it was as hilarious and silly as it sounds; this is the romantic part of travel, right?), Troy walked to a local shop and picked up a smoked duck pâté. Once again, we made our way back to the Eiffel Tower. For a change of scenery, we wandered right up to its base (on Friday we had sat across the river by the Trocadero) and found a spot in the park to enjoy our picnic.
Oh! And we had dessert! This is where I have to dispel any rumours about French people being unkind or unwelcoming in ANY way. Everyone we met was so kind. They appreciated our attempts at French, they switched to English for us, and the woman who was ringing us through at Causses (who was exactly what I think of when I think of French women: elegant, beautiful, and well-dressed with great hair) not only left the store to check their storage space for plastic cutlery, she also gave us two pastries for free as a treat for the evening! Below: Troy relaxing and basking in the evening glow of the Eiffel Tower; trying to get a selfie in which we show off the free pastry; and our view of the Eiffel Tower from our Saturday evening spot in the park.
This time, we arrived later and our visit was bookended by the lighting of the tower at our 9 o’clock arrival, and again at 10 o’clock as we enjoyed our pastries. We practically fell into bed after a peaceful and yet action-packed day. It was another magnifique ending to the day!