40 Days of Paris, Day Two: Eiffel Tower, Cheese, Sunset and Some Bears
Why 40 Days of Paris? Find out. PS: there’s also a gallery of pics at the end of this post. Just in case you’re ready for pictoral stimulation now.
Day 2 started out with a hopeful trip to Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera House which happens to be quite near the also very famous Parlez Vous Loco House. (You’ve heard of that, right?) I missed the tour, so I stood in line in hopes of scoring a 10-euro ticket to an opera, as advertised on the website. After standing in line for 30 minutes, I learned that the cheapest ticket is soixante-six — that’s 66 euros for all you non-French speakers. If I wanted the 10-euro ticket it would, from what my admittedly challenged hearing + French comprehension skills could pick up, involve me sitting in a room where the poor people are sequestered so that we can hear but not actually see le spectacle known as an opera. Right. So I left with a few pics on my iPhone (below) and will return for a tour later this week.
Afterwards, I was cold and needed to reload on my Day 2 plans, so I decided to indulge in some simple pleasures, some of my favorite places and things of Paris. I biked to Kooka Boora Café to test their chocolat chaud for a second time, where I found it to be (again) delicious, delightful, and a bargain at 4.5 euros after the JP Hévin 7-euro chocolat chaud. Afterwards, I went in pursuit of hot, young cheese and found a double crème Saint-Felicien that ought to be illegal. (“Ohhhhh, shiiit, that is FRESH.” – Kirsten Wiig in Bridesmaids) I picked up a half chicken and some potatoes swimming in luscious chicken fat and walked home enjoying the sunset over Hausman Boulevard.
Later, I indulged in my favorite Paris pleasure of all: a late-night Vélib around the city, with the first stop at La Tour Eiffel. I’d planned on bundling my sore throat and I up and sitting on the grass to watch the 11 pm light show, but when I got there I found something interesting: Buddy Bears, 140 of them to be exact, 70 lined up on each side of the second plot of grass at the Champs de Mars.
According to the sign at the exhibit and the website, the Buddy Bears “mark two occasions – 25 years of town twinning between Paris and Berlin and the “50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.” Whatever that is.
I must admit, I’m the first to pooh-pooh cultural feel-good things like this, especially things that involve two cities pairing off. (What’s the point of a sister city, anyway? And can somebody please tell me what it actually means to be a World Heritage Site? Anyone?) So I had low expectations for the bears. But I found myself getting swept away in the Buddy Bear excitement –- and yes, that last phrase was real; there was indeed “Buddy Bear Excitement.” Perhaps nowhere else in the world are there so many tourists from different countries milling around together than at the Eiffel Tower, which means that grown-ass adults were laughing like small children and taking pictures like pictures were going out of style when they found their country’s bear. I found myself walking quickly to the other side to see both the United States and France bears, both of which were pretty cool. Pics (and my snarky comments) about all the bears are in the slideshow below. This includes snarkiness related to Ireland’s bear, which, WOW, I’m really glad was not cliché at all. (Really? they should’ve just cut the face out of a Lucky Charms cereal box and glued that and a bottle of Jameson to the freakin’ bear.)
I rounded out Day 2 with a nice bike ride through Saint Germain and a stop on the bridge to take in the beauty of the Seine at exactly midnight, and then record a video to wish my friend Jenna happy birthday. (Happy birthday, Jenna … again!) I rode through the arches that lead to The Louvre and realized that no matter where in the world I am, the sight of those arches will always make me feel like I’m just a few minutes from home. Because I’ve been lucky enough to know one of the most culturally rich city-centers in the world like the back of my hand because it’s been my ‘hood for the past nine months.
And that’s when I started to cry.
Onward to Day 3….