Want the real Parisian experience? Just sit in a café.

We were getting a bit glum that it was our last day. So much we still hadn’t done. What to do? Sit in a café for a little vin rouge and pastis. Walking back from the Louvre in the direction of our hotel we found seats at the Bar du Marché on the corner of Rue de Buci and Rue de Seine. The perfect place to relax and take in the passing parade.

Within minutes, the parade got much more interesting.

Paris - engineers toast

Not quite sure who these guys were, but there were groups like this in various outfits roaming the streets, all bent on having a good time.

A large group of guys (one in comical drag – does that count as a woman?) all with red puffy caps sat down amid much laughing, joking and many rounds of beer. It seemed like a group of graduating students – engineers? – because we soon saw other groups in their own distinctive outfits going by.

Anyway, these guys were out for a good time and soon attracted “friends” including one elderly woman who thought they were the greatest bunch she’s ever met.

Paris - engineers and lady friend

Smiles all around....

Soon Monsieur Drag and a friend were dancing in the street, and just like that, an accordion player showed up. You can see crowds gathering to watch.

Paris - engineers accordion player

The true magic of Paris is that whenever you need music, an accordion player appears.

Paris - engineers dancing

Someone help that lady across the street....

The café owner wasn’t too amused and tried to shoo the accordion player away, but since he was out on the street, there wasn’t much he could do, and besides, the rest of his clientele, us included, enjoyed the show.

We took out time with our drinks. They even brought us delicious spicy olives and popcorn. It was a perfect way to spend an hour on our last full day in Paris.

Since we were right around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens and hadn’t been there yet, we decided our dinner would be a take out sandwich eaten in the park. Easy to do. Found a Paul’s restaurant (these are nearly generic in Paris, but better take-out than most other cities in the world), got dinner and walked towards the gardens.

Paris - sandwiches from Paul

The Paul restaurants are ubiquitous around Paris, but they're still quite special. Need a sandwich for the park or to sit on the banks of the Seine? You can count on Paul's.

On the way we passed the St. Sulpice church again. In the square in front of it there was a science and math fair taking place. Lots of tents and booths set up with books, kits, puzzles, games and exhibitions. There were publishers, representatives from universities, students – everything about science and math. I couldn’t help thinking, how great is that? That this is part of daily Parisian life is wonderful.

Paris - St Sulpice chess players

The serious undertaking of chess....

Paris - St Sulpice science fair

Despite the gloomy weather, there was a good audience for the science and math fair.

We were getting hungry so we made our way to the park. Didn’t know it at the time, but we walked right past one of the apartments Hemmingway lived in, after he was making some money. Even then, rents weren’t cheap in this neighbourhood.

As we entered the park, past another series of statues (Malloil?), it was starting to rain. We found shelter and some chairs under a covering and watched a group of chess players. The sandwiches were wonderful. We ate slowly and the rain stopped. Back to our hotel.

Paris - Luxembourg gardens chess players

We were in the serious chess-playing left bank of Paris.

Paris - Luxembourg gardens palms

How do they grow palm trees in the Luxembourg Gardens? Ah, the charms of Paris!

Early the next morning, a cab took us to the airport. And that was it for this trip. A year later, in May of 2011, we did it again, but this time a bit differently. And that’s where the next post starts.

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