In Paris, a walk is sensory overload

Somewhere on these pages I’m going to make a list of all the things we didn’t see in Paris. That really is one of the problems with Paris – just an overload no matter where you look.

Louvre illustration

So, here is the Louvre from above. There are four floors, hundreds of rooms, thousands of pieces of art. See what I mean by "too much"?

Too many museums and galleries, too much architecture, too many restaurants and cafés, too much food, too much fashion, and the list goes on. So, there’s only one answer and it’s always the same – next time.

We took the Metro back downtown, stopped on the Rue Rivoli for an ice cream and walked back to the hotel for a nap.

Le Metro - one of the world's great subway systems. Takes a bit to figure out, but it has so much character, it's always fun to ride. And for you phone addicts, phones work down there.

Time for dinner. Our little map guidebook had a nice review of Cosi, a restaurant right around the corner on Rue de Seine. As soon as we got out onto the street, we realized that getting into any restaurant would be tough. Some soccer match must have just been over because the streets were swarmed with fans. The bars and restaurants were packed. We found Cosi and there was a long line-up. Finally we settled on a small Chinese restaurant for some shrimp dumpling soup. It was OK, sort of. You realize how spoiled we are by all the good Chinese restaurants in Toronto.

Paris - art gallery Van Gogh guitar

That's just what we need, a fake Gibson Flying V Van Gogh guitar. Maybe that's the joke, "the Flying Vincent". Even in a city like Paris, there's no accounting for taste.

Over soup, we decided we wanted to go on the bateaux mouches. An incredibly touristy thing to do, but undeniable fun, especially at night. The boats have bright floodlights on the sides of them to light up the river banks as you glide by.

Although we knew it was a bit of a hike, we decided to walk there. It was still a few hours to sunset, and Paris is even more beautiful than ever at this hour. We headed for the quai and it was packed. Lots of people out walking.

Paris - Pont des Arts - the "people bridge"

Such a great way to spend time with your friends on a warm Paris spring evening. Meet for a picnic on a bridge across the Seine. Spectacular views wherever you look. Cheap, cheerful and so Parisian. And "yes" to wine and beer, and "no" to any problems with that.

When we got to the Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge over the Seine, it was crowded with groups of people, mostly in their 20’s having picnics or just hanging out. Many were sitting in circles, with food, wine and beer in the middle and just talking. A few guitars here and there, but mostly just hanging out on a bridge over the Seine as sunset approached. How civilized does it get? You wonder why this doesn’t work in other cities, i.e. Toronto. Well for one, there’s the issue of drinking wine or beer in public. Then there would be the sitting down on a walkway. And then of course, all these young people – we’d probably have to call the police. Ah, not in Paris my friends.Paris - Seine sunset 2

We stopped on the bridge, found a place on the railing and just enjoyed the views of the city. Sunset over the Seine. Boats going by under the bridge. People waving and cheering as they passed beneath. A beautiful French tri-couleur flag on the top of a dome on the horizon framed in a spotlight for the whole city to see. We were in no hurry and this seemed like such innocent fun, it was too good to pass up.Sublime, non?

There’s a good write-up on the history of the Pont des Arts, along with a stunning photograph and a wonderful quote by Kenneth Clark.

We kept walking, stopping to take pictures of the sunset. All of a sudden a whole fleet of tractor trailer trucks were passing us. Seemed strange to have so many big rigs in a row – is U2 playing in town? We found out later what that was about.

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