Friday, August 26, 2011

The Loudshoes in Europe, Part 5: Paris

Our first morning in Paris, we got up bright and early and went down to the hotel's breakfast buffet....I LOVE good breakfast buffet, and this one did not disappoint: crepes and eggs and bacon and cheese! Oh the cheese! And the bread! Baguettes and brioche and chocolate croissants! I could have stayed there all day and been perfectly happy.

We headed back to the Eiffel Tower because we wanted to go up to the top of it, and we arrived 10 minutes after it opened to find an hour and a half wait for the elevators. (This, as it turned out, was to be a theme for the rest of our vacation.) When we finally got to the base of the tower, we had to go through the usual bag searches and other security. I managed to set off the metal detector, because I had on a heavy necklace on under my scarf. When I pulled the scarf off to show the security guard he gave the most dramatic sigh and rolled his eyes so far back into his head I thought he might lose them altogether, like he could not believe he had to put up with idiots like me day after freaking day! He must be fun to work with....can you imagine him at the Eiffel Tower Staff Christmas Party?

The view from the top was spectacular; we were lucky enough to get a clear and windy day that made it easy to see for miles in all directions. Then we lined up for another half hour to get back down.

We decided beforehand that we wouldn't go into any museums or churches, our time was just too tight; better to see a lot of things briefly than one or two things in depth. Judging from the lines at the Louvre and Notre Dame we made the right choice....I'm not exaggerating when I say there were a couple of hundred people in lines for both.

We took a boat tour along the Seine and saw all the famous buildings and some of the not so famous ones and we ate....boy, did we eat. I think we ate our way from one end of Paris to the other. Thing 1 and I particularly liked the crepes; they had these stands where they made your crepe to order every twenty feet or so and I think we stopped at every one....who knew bananas and Nutella was a combination I have been missing out on all my life??

One thing I liked about Paris and London is that there are plenty of public washrooms everywhere, and for the members of the Tiny Bladder Club, of which I am a charter member, this is a very welcome policy. You usually have to pay a little bit to use the bathrooms, but that's okay, it pays for a staff that keeps the bathrooms clean and supervised. And let me tell you, the ladies staffing the women's bathroom underneath Notre Dame take their job very seriously. These two North African women running this place did not put up with fools; you had to be right smart about doing your business, no lolllygagging, and they parceled out toilet paper like it was made of gold. And they kept yellling "Flush! FLUSH!!" every time anyone left a cubicle. But they kept that line moving and got a LOT of people in and out of there very efficiently. There wasn't a sign with the fee on it, and I was afraid of getting kicked out, so I gave them 2€ for the three of us and they beamed at me, so I guess it was enough.

I had read about a place on Ile St Louis that serves fabulous ice cream, and since I still had not quite eaten my total body weight yet, we went in search of it. And we found it! Here are Thing 1 and Thing 2 and I perusing the flavours at Berthillon, and drooling.

They had flavors like apricot and rhubarb and dark chocolate. Thing 1 had peach and Thing 2 had lime and I had salted caramel, which was out of this world and so intensely delicious that it was hard not to eat it too fast.

I have to say, the people in Paris were wonderful, friendly and helpful and very kind when I butchered their language beyond all recognition. I speak enough French to ask a question, but not enough to understand the answer. Everyone I tried my French on was very encouraging, but answered me in English, for which I was grateful. I had heard that Parisiennes were snotty and cold, but that was not our experience at all. When we were trying to find the entrance to a subway station (they hide them!) I asked at a gas station (in French) if they could tell me, and when one of the customers found out I was Canadian, he bellowed "J'adore! J'adore les Canadiennes!!" and hugged me and babbled on for a while (which I did not get at all....I thinkI heard something about being polite and then something else about Afghanistan.) and told us where the entrance to the subway was, and for a moment I thought he was about to come home with us. And then as we stumbled about for another bit finding the entrance (seriously, they hide them, they do NOT want you taking the subway in Paris!) an older couple walking down the street asked if they could help us. They could not have been lovelier.

After twelve hours of walking and eating, we were all grateful to crawl into bed and get some sleep. Because we knew that breakfast buffet would be there in the morning!

No comments: