Midnight on the Champs Élysées
We got off the bateau mouche and it was after 11 o’clock. The perfect time to head over to the Champs Élysées. Interesting fact: Champs Élysées is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology.
It’s just before midnight and the wide sidewalks are still crowded. Tourists, club kids all dressed up, locals out for a walk.
They’ve closed off the street itself and crews of workers are unloading a fleet of tractor trailers with many pallets of bushes, trees and flowers which are being arranged into various displays. These were the trucks we’d seen earlier. The whole thing was running like a military operation. They’re having some type of annual government-sponsored gardening show in the coming days. To the glory and beauty of France no doubt. Imagine closing off Fifth Avenue in New York or Bloor Street in Toronto for a gardening show.
We’re walking west, up the Champs towards the Arc de Triomphe. Cafés are full and the famous car showrooms that line the avenue are still open. We went into the Peugeot showroom. In addition to the latest models, they’ve also got concept cars. Bright pop colours, very slick plastic and leather finishes. Peugeot and Citroen are one company now, but this was just Peugeot on display. I have no idea how their cars perform, but they have some great looking little city cars along with sports coupes. I stopped a few times to look at parked cars just because you don’t see them here. Too bad they just can’t seem to make it in North America.
We walk past Fouquet’s, one of Paris’ older stand-by fancy restaurants. Still there, still busy.
We’re up at the Arc de Triomphe. Cars are whizzing around the circle. On the sidewalk, a couple who look like they’re Italian are having some kind of a drama. They’re all dressed up for a good time, but they are definitely not having fun. Suddenly she whirls away from him, and starts walking right into traffic. The cars are moving slowly because of the congestion, but they’re still moving. Horns start honking but she keeps going. Finally he runs after her, takes her by the arm and brings her back to the sidewalk. We keep moving. Wonder how the rest of their night turned out?
We’re getting tired. Time to find the Metro. We get into a car that has groups girls who seem to be in their late teens, early twenties, all dressed up for party time. A couple are carrying bottles. They having fun and all pile off at the same stop.
We get off at Saint-Michel again to walk back to our hotel. Of course the Latin Quarter is jammed full of people. We decide we’re just a bit hungry and order two Nutella crepes from a hole-in-the wall take out créperie. They are really the perfect snack food. We walk the twisting streets back to our hotel.
We discover that there’s a Starbucks on a little side street just around the corner from our hotel. Who knew? Now on one hand it seems sacrilegious to go into American shops or restaurants while you’re in Paris (lots of McDonalds and a new invasion of Subway shops in Paris), but for Starbucks I might make an exception. But all that was just a theory because it was closed anyway.
By the time we were in our hotel room, it was 1:45. Once again we’d squeezed all we could from the day.