The second day of my trip, I slept late. I could already see full daylight peeking through the curtains when I awoke. I took my time getting ready, grabbed my camera, and headed to Luxembourg Gardens for a look around. When I arrived, I was surprised to see an abundance of joggers. I love to go for long runs around cities, but it’s not something you see very much in Europe. It made me wish I’d packed my running shoes!
Being January, the gardens were pretty but not in full splendor. In retrospect, I probably could have skipped them, but I’ll definitely return if I find myself in Paris again during the warmer months.
After the gardens, I popped into a cafe for a proper Parisian breakfast. I was disappointed that they were out of chocolate croissants, but I guess that’s what happens when you wait until 11 AM. Fortunately, it’s Paris, so I thoroughly enjoyed my plain croissant. When it comes to flakey pastry, nobody outdoes the French!
Sure, I missed the chocolate croissants, but my timing wasn’t all bad. A few moments after I sat down the skies opened up. If there’s anywhere I want to be holed up, though, a Parisian cafe is it. I leisurely enjoyed my coffee, journaled, and waited for the skies to clear.
After about an hour, I headed back to my hotel for a bag switch. I knew I was going to be doing a lot of exploring on foot, so I dropped off my large bag and heavy camera and traded them out for a smaller bag with the essentials.
Having spent my entire first day on the left bank, I headed over the river to see what the right bank had to offer. Crossing the river, I found one of Paris’ more modern attractions: the love locks. Aggressive vendors hassled me, trying to sell me a lock. I laughed to myself, surprised that they thought a woman visiting Paris alone was their target audience.
I meandered along the right bank, past the Louvre again and through the Tuileries Garden, down to the base of the hideous ferris wheel. I continued towards the Arc de Triumph and Champs-Elysées. Feeling peckish, I found a restaurant to stop at for lunch. As usual, I took seat by the window.
I ordered steak tartare, frites, and a lovely glass of wine. It reaffirmed my take-away from last time I was in France: the food is really hit or miss (for my palette, anyway). While some things are like a bite of heaven, others just don’t appeal to me. I was disappointed to discover that this steak tartare fell into the latter category. The tender rare meat was mixed with a pickle relish that totally overpowered the dish. At least the fries were good!
Rejuvenated by lunch, I headed out for some more exploring. I strolled down Avenue des Champs-Elysées, popping in and out of stores as the rain showers ebbed and flowed. I visited some of my American favorites (looking at you, Sephora) as well as some local shops. As evening was setting in, I snapped this photo of the Arc de Triumph, then hopped on the Metro back to the Latin Quarter.
Later that evening, I went for another stroll. On a whim, I popped into a little restaurant and sat down at the bar for a glass of wine. It was an L-shaped bar, and the only other patrons were two women about my age. They were drinking and joking with the bartender; clearly the three of them were friends. About half way through my glass of wine, the bartender asked me if I understood French. “I’m afraid not,” I said. “Oh, Thank God!” she said, “We are being so stupid.” Now that the barrier was broken, the conversation continued in English and all four of us started joking around. Another server even joined in. It felt so warm and friendly, it made me wonder why the French get such a bad rap. The girls invited me outside for a cigarette, but I declined as I don’t smoke. I was just finishing as they returned. “You should come back for dinner tomorrow,” the bartender told me. I smiled and said I would if I found myself in the area at dinnertime.
I smiled the whole way back to the hotel. I’d had such a lovely, leisurely day and I wrapped it up feeling like I’d made Parisian friends. I was fully enraptured by the City of Light.