Already halfway through our stay and we’ve seen everything we wished to see, save the Arc de Triomphe – something we planned on doing at night. So today was a morning of leisure and rest. When we were finally refreshed, we headed out to the Batobus and rode it to Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Prés under a glorious autumn sky. (We had awoken to rain, so the clearing weather was a blessing.) We managed to shoot a few more photos of the Tour Eiffel with the gorgeous blue sky as the boat wound its way to St. Germain.
We lingered a bit on the Pont de Arts for a little, taking in the Seine and then wandering into the arts district. We passed several small galleries and cafes before we found a small shop that sold hand-painted lead soldiers. Very exquisite (and very expensive!) workmanship; the owner was in the back in his workshop painting other figures as his wife ran the front of the store. I struggled for nearly half an hour about buying a couple but ended up not doing so. We were so taken in by the artistry we completely forgot to take pictures, though I’m unsure how those would’ve turned out anyway as the shop was very tiny…
After a little more wandering, we found ourselves at Le Mondrian, a very nice and cozy brasserie. We lingered over a late meal for about two hours, enjoying the people coming and going and admiring the courteous and amiable waitstaff as they handled a busy late afternoon.
One thing that struck me while we lingered was the noticeable lack of people using Blackberries or smart phones. Most of the people – young and old, mind – were engaged in the “old fashioned” art of communication: talking face-to-face. Those phones or devices present (hardly a laptop, either) were relegated to the sidelines. It was a marked contrast to a similar scene in a typical coffeehouse or cafe here in the U.S.
As the sun went down we set off for the Parisian metro, as we were in no way walking such a distance to the Arc de Triomphe. I was sort of eager to ride it and the inevitable comparisons to our own WMATA system came into play as we navigated the system. Though the French design is much older and more convoluted in its layout, the trains – for the most part – are very clean and efficient, even if crowded.
The Arc is beautiful when lit up at night. We immediately paid to hike the stairs to the top, climbing all 600+ stairs in one go. The view was totally worth the effort and we spent a very long time up there. We descended only after catching the hourly “sparkle-time” of the nearby Tour Eiffel.
Returning to the ground, we spent more time wandering in and around the Arc, amazed at the controlled chaos of traffic that surrounded it even on a late Saturday evening. We eventually made our way back through the metro system to our Marais apartment and settled back to rest for our next, and last, full day in Paris.