The morning of the last day of the Tour de France dawned fair and lovely and HOT. Fifi and I set off on our morning adventure and first hit the kids' park in Square Paul Langevin. She mostly like standing and watching the older French girls run around in their fluffy dresses while their Papa's talked on cell phones, smoked cigarettes, and occasionally remonstrated/kissed their adorable daughters. Then Fea discovered that pigeons fly away when you chase them....!!! That occupied her time for quite a while. We next headed to my main goal that day, the Jardin des Plantes. The park houses several natural history museums, but we were mostly interested in taking the maze-like path up to the gazebo with a really nice outlook on the neighborhood. In this park, I experienced one of my favorite sights of Paris - the runners with the odd running outfits. Obviously, I am habituated to a certain type of running gear, in that I live in a town with a ridiculous amount of runners in their very up to date and expensive and high-tech running gear (we all agreed to put out of our minds the year I ran in a pair of
large BRIGHT RED men's sweatpants, right Julia and Krista??). In Paris, in the Jardin des Plantes, I saw the older, white-haired gentleman with white linen shorts, shirt, and v-neck sweater out for a jog, as well as a husband and wife in what appeared to be their regular clothes and SANDALS. Then there was the dude in his full-on military get-up and boots, and a guy in pants and flip-flops. I am assuming they were all running for exercise and not away from certain destruction or zombies since Fea and I came out of the park fully intact. Fifi and I made our way - ever so slowly, as she stopped every 3 feet to eat dirt and show me pebbles - to the gazebo as an entire herd of Australian kids navigated their way up through the shrubbery, off the beaten pathways. We shared a view from the gazebo with several other folks, all of whom were smoking. Anyway, we had a lovely time, stopped in a shop on the way back to the apartment for a banana (the shopkeeper was cracking up that I wanted to buy just un banane
) and eventually made it back in time for
a light lunch and naptime.
THEN....we headed out to watch the end of the Tour in the Place de la Concorde. The temperature had risen quite a bit by then. We took the Metro to get as close as we could, and honestly, I was thinking, "Wow, there's not going to be that many people there! Sweet!" There just was not a lot of congestion on the Metro...until we reached the final stop. The gendarmes had blocked off all exits from the Metro except one. This was indicated by white pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper taped to the wall here and there with SORTIE printed on them in about size 20 font, and an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction. Problem is, first you have to see the signs. Then you have to figure out where exactly the arrow is pointing, as the Metro underground is like a maze, with passages leading all over the place. We kind of gave up and started watching people, getting the drift of the current, and eventually followed a group of French folk who had a knowing, confident look about them. We came up into the glaring sun surrounded by A
LOT of people. A LOT. I was SURE that Hank would have rented us a room in one of the hotels lining the street, complete with pink bubbly and apple juice...no such luck. We ended up working our way through the crowd with a lot of Pardons
and apologetic smiles (The baby! It's all for the baby!) and found a place in the shade right at the corner of the Tuileries off of Rue Saint Florentin and Rue de Rivoli (I give the exact coordinates so Christian can use his photographic memory to pinpoint our location). Hank took the camera up front, as best he could, while I stood on my tiptoes against the cool stone wall, Fea in the Ergo keeping me nice and cozy warm. It was very festive and people were dancing, drinking in the street, and singing (side note: in the midst of this chaos, right through the crowd, a woman came through with two GIANT roller suitcases. Not the best time or route to take to get where you're going). Finally the buses made their way past, honking and playing music, and then came the riders. Great cheers erupted from the onlookers, and it was
all very exciting for about 20 seconds.
Hank did get a great video. We thought we might try to make our way towards the Arc area, so we headed int hat direction, only to find most streets completely blocked off. Finally, the decision was made to find some boissons froides for our always patient little Fifi, who endured being lugged about in the Ergo through throngs of people with her usual aplomb. We found a very cute little bistro with jus de pommes and fresh out of the oven pear cake. OMG. That cake was GOOD. The bar keeper was such a nice man, and kept giving things to Fea to keep her distracted (she has a tendency to want to get down and play about, which is fine, but she likes to make a break for the door when she can). We determined to try to find a nice cool, green park for her to play in, so we moseyed down Bd Haussman, past the St Augustin church, and stumbled upon Square Louis XVI. It is a really nice, small, shaded park with a beautiful chapel. Hank suggested that we take turns with Fea in the park, and that the one not on Fea duty would go over to the brasserie on the corner and join the stadium-seated folk on the sidewalk for a nice glass of wine. I agreed that this was a wonderful idea, and headed over to Le Triadou Haussman. I sat in one of the very front outdoor seats, glanced at the menu, and was pretty astonished at the prices. So I ordered the cheapest pink wine on the menu and commenced doing what everyone does when sitting in the front of the cafe...sitting. And looking. And sipping. It was lovely. They brought me out a tiny bowl of stale popcorn with no seasoning as a treat. I headed back to the park after my drink so Hank could take his turn, and Fea and I played on the grass, chasing pigeons and finding cool things in the grass.
We eventually went and retrieved Hank from the bar of Le Triadou and found a Metro to take us home. After feeding, washing, snuggling, and reading, Fifi went right to sleep in her cozy little nest on the floor of the bedroom. Hank tramped off to scavenge us some pizza from a local place our apartment hosts had recommended. He returned with two yummy little pizzas (with anchovies, of course) and a big salad. We watched "Broken Flowers" that night, a great Jim Jarmusch flick, while resting our very sore feet. Travel in general is exhausting; travel with a lively and curious toddler is EXHAUSTING. But super fun!
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