Walking through Paris

The weather continued to be chilly, overcast, and damp. Fall seemed to have come all at once, and of course it had to happen while we were in Paris. It wasn’t too bad though. The weather eventually warmed up, and we made the most of it by bundling up and wandering about like all the fictional characters in Paris seem to do.

First, that day, we encountered a meat and produce market blocks from our Airbnb. It was packed with Parisians doing their weekend shopping, all queuing in front of and negotiating with the stall keepers over fresh fish or local grapes. We were too intimidated to buy anything.

We eventually made our way to Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Amongst the fall leaves and cobble stone streets, the tall, above-ground graves and mini chapels/shrines seemed to hold a special power. There was a pressure, a presence that compelled me to walk slowly and speak quietly. The place was full of moss covered stones, sitting beside the new, sleek graves. Past and present united in death.

The spell was broken, however, when we encountered clumps of tourists, huddling around Oscar Wilde’s and Jim Morrison’s graves. As with every other tourist spot, they were there in force with their cameras and their tour guides. Zoe and I quickly moved on.

We then made our way to Bastille, strolling down the busy, urban streets and counting the dozens of cafés and patisseries along the way. They’re as frequent as Starbucks or McDonalds are in the states. We eventually got to the monument and it was there that we encountered a local craft fair. It was relatively empty and the artists huddled together around tables off to the sides to eat lunch. There was some amazing artwork there, and both Zoe and I ended up buying something. Better to support the local artist than the souvenir chain.

From there we continued and quickly ran into crowds. Here were the hordes of tourists that we missed before. I hadn’t noticed it when we walked along the river the previous evenings, but, at the time, crowds were relatively few and far in between. But now there they were, in full force, gathering around the vintage books and print stalls along the Seine and laughing and pointing in awe and excitement. There was so much English being spoken that I momentarily forgot what country I was in.

We elbowed our way through the masses to the restaurant we had been heading to called Le Rostand (ironically, we went at the suggestion of a guide book). It was a bustling café near Le Jardin du Luxembourg. The food was wonderful, and after a couple hours, we finished and wandered into the garden. A guy was playing classical music on a record player under the gazebo as people strolled along under the orange leaves and grey skies. Zoe said she felt like she was in a movie, and I couldn’t help but agree with her. It rained while we were there and we took shelter under the trees and watched people hurry past under their umbrellas.

Afterwards, Zoe lead the way back to Shakespeare and Co. (and once again, there were the crowds that we had missed) because she wanted to buy a book. I myself bought an English language Indian book about an Indian student at an American university. It sometimes amazes me how global everything has become.

We headed back after that and had a simple meal at a local café. We were exhausted, and we still had to pack. Tomorrow was our last day.

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