Paris, je t'aime

My only other experience traveling alone was a year and a half ago when I went to Austria and Germany for a month to heal my broken heart (if you haven't been around since the beginning, you can catch up by reading the archives for November 2007 and December 2007). Turns out, going to Europe alone in the middle of winter with your life in a shambles is quite different than going to Paris alone in the springtime when you're in love. Not that I haven't had a great time; I have, of course. I'm so glad I came, and it was especially lovely to catch up with the Army Brat.

But, let's be honest, Paris is called The City of Love for a reason—it is ridiculously romantic here! The streets were made for strolling hand in hand, the parks were made for canoodling on a blanket, the Seine was made for starry-eyed lovers. Everywhere I go I am surrounded by honeymooners and other couples who apparently subscribe to the "What happens in Paris stays in Paris" philosophy, given the amount of PDA going on here. I would probably feel like this anywhere, but I am missing the hell out of my CameraMan. I'm looking at this trip as an exploratory mission—I'm casing the joint before I come back with CM.

Despite a persistent feeling that something (someone) is missing, I love love love Paris. Here are just some of the reasons why:
  • Cheese. Duh.

  • The chairs of the sidewalk cafés all face the street, for unabashed people watching.

  • The women: they dress beautifully.

  • The men: they have artfully disheveled hair and really good shoes.

  • The children: they all speak French.

  • Some of the Metro stations still have those Art Deco entrance signs.

  • The ice cream at Berthillon on the Ile St. Louis. Astonishingly good.

  • Fresh bread any time you want it. Which is constantly.

  • Air heavy with history.

  • So many public parks: all the big ones, and then little tiny hidden ones to discover.

  • Versailles. I didn't expect to love it so much. Those gardens are unparalleled.

  • The public bike sharing program (Vélib), which I finally got to try on my last evening!

  • L'Orangerie.

  • Street performers. Everywhere.

  • The Rodin Museum, especially the garden.

  • The Metro. People make eye contact, and they don't all wear headphones! Plus, there are so many stops, it's always easy to find a convenient one.

  • A dozen kinds of chocolate mousse at the grocery store.

  • The people are friendly. Yes, FRIENDLY.

  • Cats. I knew I would see a lot of dogs, but I was surprised by the number of cats on balconies, cats in windows, and cats roaming around.

  • The Seine. Breathtakingly beautiful at any time of day or night.

  • The pure Parisness of it all. All week I felt like I was in a movie.

  • An infinite number of photo ops. I'll be sifting through pictures for the next couple weeks—you can find them here.

I'm just about ready to go back to the States, but before I do, may I just say:

  1. Stop waiting for a man to take me to Paris and just go there already.

12 down, people, 88 to go.

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