It was my last day in France and I was strutting down Paris’ rue Saint-Louis en l’île when someone took one look at me and exclaimed, “Wow, touriste!”
If this had happened during my first sejour en France two and a half years ago, I would have been mortified. Back then, the ultimate goal was blending in; being pegged as a tourist would have marked the ultimate failure.
This time, I took it in stride. When and where better to be a tourist than for a last hurrah in Paris after an amazing seven months in France? And what a waste it would be to saunter around one of the richest cities in the world with my nose in the air and my camera in my bag, pretending that I was somehow above it all.
The days passed in a glorious blur. Dead French kings in the Basilique Saint-Denis. A trip to Rousseau’s house in nearby Montmorency. Sipping wine under an umbrella fort in drizzly manicured gardens. Joshua Radin live in concert. And so much good food.
Before I knew it, there was only one day left.
I shared ce dernier jour with Natalie, one of my best friends from Whitman who’s currently pursuing a master’s degree at Cambridge because she’s really smart and impressive. This trip was Nat’s frist to Paris. As it was my fifth, I got to play expert tour guide.
More accurately, expert tourist: My camera round my neck, a black beret perched jauntily on my head, a tattered map of the city in my hand.
We started off the morning with a metro ride to Montmartre, home to stunning views over Paris, the Basilique Sacre-Coeur, and street artists galore—lingering vestiges of the butte‘s Belle Epoque past, when Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso all roamed these streets.
Our next target was the Ile de la Cité and neighboring Ile Saint-Louis for a look at Notre Dame, a filling lunch, and glaces Berthillon.
From there, we urged our weary feet down the Seine to the Louvre where we entered les Tuileries and made our way to the Musée de l’Orangerie to take in Monet’s Nymphéas (unfortunately, they have a strict no photos policy).
After a quick stop back at the flat to change shoes and pick up a bottle of wine, we were off again—this time to climb la Tour Eiffel.
Once we’d hidden the bottle and opener in some nearby bushes (no glass bottles or sharp objects are allowed up the tower—probably a good rule), we started up the stairs. All 720 of them.
Thighs quivering with fatigue, we made it to level two—as far as the stairs will get you.
While the views here would be the most spectacular—high enough for stellar panoramas (click on the one above to see it full-sized), but low enough to still be able to distinguish landmarks—we couldn’t very well not go all the way up. So we got in line for the elevator to le sommet.
And it was pretty cool up there, too.
We made it down and reclaimed the wine just in time to plop ourselves on the crowded Champ de Mars before the tower started twinkling at 10 p.m.
And, finally, after feasting our eyes, we went all out with a late-night last supper at La Coupole, one of the city’s most emblematic brasseries.
P.S. We shed the berets for dinner. 😉
Click here for more photos from Paris.