My calves whimpered. The soles of my feet ached. My hips wanted to stay in bed. Sunday, day of rest, right? But I just couldn’t resist the lure of Paris. I promised myself I would take it easy.
A bonjour to the nice staff of Miss Manon, who anticipate my une noisette, s’il vous plait order. I planned to just amble around a bit in the Marais. Do a little window shopping, maybe do an audio walking tour. I headed down Rue Saint-Paul in no haste. I kept half an eye out for an interesting knife to put in a painting, and a sky blue cotton scarf. I wasn’t far from the river when I heard drumming and the smell of oranges hit me.
Turns out the halfway mark (20 kilometers) of the Paris marathon route was at the end of my street. Volunteers were tossing out bottles of water and quartered oranges. There was a helpful row of toilettes portatives. The front runners had already crossed the finish line, but waves of plucky marathoners kept rolling by, bodies in motion as far as the eye could see. Squashed orange skins were flung all over the street and looked like a hundred pratfalls waiting to happen, but the runners took it in stride. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) I am in awe of every one of them. After a meager seven miles a day in the Louvre, my legs are jelly and alI I want to do is lie down.
In the crook of the curve where the street sloped down to the Seine, drummers in yellow shirts and white porkpie hats pounded out syncopated beats. They’d been playing for the runners since the race began hours before, their own percussion marathon. Awesome. Just fantastic.
After watching and dancing in place for a half hour, I headed to Place des Vosges to do the ParisWalks audio tour, by Sonia and Alison Landes. They offer captivating details about the architecture and escapades of the famous inhabitants that puts what you see into historical context. I loved walking around the exterior of the imposing mansion of the Duke de Sully with their voices in my head.
I sat in the park in the center of the square for while, watching the people picnicking and kids on the playground. It was lively, yet peaceful. Around 1pm I stopped in Ma Bourgogne for lunch, and ordered skate wing with capers and butter sauce. Mm’mm…butter. I did not linger. I was inside in a dim corner because outside had the view, but also the smokers. C’est la guerre.
Took to the street to finish the walking tour and realized I walking right by Le Musée Carnavalet, the city’s history museum (23 Rue de Sevigne) so I turned in. Admission was free, but I gladly slapped down 5E for the audio guide. Parisian history in not my strong suite. Most of what I know I learned from Mel Brooks. Over all, I particularly liked the alcoves dedicated to writers; the bed of Marcel Proust stopped me in my tracks. The entire top floor was dedicated to the revolution. The Declaration of Rights of Man – Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – represent! And on this historic week, only 225 years later, Paris elected her first female mayor. The Rights of Woman, hoo yah! (Yes, that’s a little sarcastic. Just a smidge.)
The strange thing was the conspicuous lack of reference to a guillotine. They refer to abolishing the monarchy, and there’s of painting of Marie Antoinette preparing herself to go under the blade but it’s all about the wretched plight of the people and misbehavior of the royalty. I’m not bloodthirsty, but isn’t guillotine kind of pivotal to the narrative? In contrast, the Edinburgh city museum has so many implements of punishment, torture, and execution, including an actual ten foot tall guillotine called The Maiden, that I felt a little queasy.
Okay speaking of weird anomalies, a French family was seated next to me at lunch, and the woman hummed quietly whenever she wasn’t talking. Hummed a tune. I heard it again at the Canavalet, a women strolling along, humming quietly to herself. Is this a thing in Paris?
Hit the wall around 5-ish, 7 miles on the Nike counter. Finished the last street of the tour and headed back to my apartment. Threw in my laundry, repeated my scrumptious dinner of last night, with the added bliss of something called a Charlotte Russe. It was so delicious. I may have to marry her.