Day 10: My Feet Are Killing Me.
Paris — I live at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, so when I think about going on holiday, I don’t want to go to the beaches in Mexico or Hawaii (usually). I crave a big city, urban nightlife and energy that is not Los Angeles (car-driven), so New York, Montreal, London, Prague and Paris are high on my list of places to visit.
Boy, my feet sure are sore from walking around so much! All that concrete and all those cobblestones take a toll on a surfer’s tender footsies. I fear I can no longer Hang Ten. Serious blisters on both feet, people!
Over the years, some of my favorite novels have been set in Paris, so it’s no coincidence that I should want to visit the city Hemingway called home during A Moveable Feast, or the museum where symbologist Robert Langdon fled a crime scene in The Da Vinci Code, or where a young man from the Auvergne was made a vampire in The Vampire Lestat.
Such is the power and influence of a good book. You can cover a lot of ground retracing these literary steps. I did exactly that, and it was pretty exciting.
Be forewarned, though: Shakespeare And Company has moved since Hemingway’s time here, and the Priory Keystone is nowhere to be found within the church of Saint Sulpice, and most notably, the infamous Theatre Des Vampires is not listed on Trip Advisor!
(Am assuming this is due to the extremely high mortality rate of audience members, but how cool would it be if it were?! Perhaps, the upcoming Vampire Chronicles television series will change that. Looking at you Christopher Rice and Paramount TV.)
One can take many a literary-inspired tour, though. Why not? ‘Tis a great way to see Paris:
Walk Like A Parisian.
For my first week in Paris, I was lucky to spend a lot of time with a friend who lives here. I got the inside scoop on how Parisians live, how they deal with the constant roving packs of tourists (and high season has not yet begun), where they like to eat and to relax.
The surfer in me is drawn to the river, The Seine. I stroll its banks every day, enjoying that famed French sunlight, just taking it all in. River Cruises motor up and down all day packed with tourists seeing Paris by boat, people imagining what it must be like to live in one of the fantastic old buildings where most of the balconies have welcoming flower boxes recently planted for Spring.
One of the coolest things to do is to picnic along the bank, which many many people do because it’s affordable (and fun). Cheese, wine and bread. Easy.
In local news, the Festival of Bread just concluded, and an immigrant’s son won the coveted prize of Best Baguette!
One of the most helpful articles I’ve read is from Conde-Nast Traveler on How To Avoid Looking Like A Tourist In Paris Unfortunately, I read it after I arrived wearing my gaudy white sneakers and supremely unchic American backpack. Ironically, the article is entitled The Essential Things to Know Before You Visit Paris.
There are a gazillion places selling esharpes (scarves) and man-bags. Especially, bags. There are stores everywhere selling handsome bags. It’s a bit overwhelming to choose and also a bit annoying because I have these exact items at home in Santa Monica. I just did not bring them with me. Woulda coulda shoulda!
Dream vs Reality
When you imagine seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time, it’s just you standing quietly and gazing at Da Vinci’s portrait and wondering what all the fuss is about. It’s a lot smaller in person.
What you don’t see in your imagination is the crowd of people behind you jostling for position trying to snap their Selfie and arguing with their companions on where to go for lunch.
Crowds. I don’t like ’em. Paris is full of them. I can’t get away fast enough. So, it’s to the riverbank I go, to walk at my own pace on the uneven cobblestones (did I mention how much my poor feet hurt???), to find an empty bench, to enjoy that famous Parisian light that has been so much discussed in books and in film.
I lucked out when a friend and I went to see Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at Musee de l’Orangerie . It was raining, and there were only the brave few walking with umbrellas through the Tuileries. My friend, who lives in Paris, was shocked. She had never walked right up to the museum before without waiting in a long line. These paintings are magnificent works of art that are impressively displayed for your enjoyment. Hope you can see it on quiet day.
Thank you, rainy weather.
N E X T U P:
It took years of Practice and Hard Work,
But I Finally Made It To Roland-Garros!
An American (Surfer/Tennis Player) in Paris – Continues!