I loved Clotilde’s post about her proposed “Twelve Hours in Paris” trip and thought I’d play along and tell the story of what I did last summer in the twelve hours that I spent in Paris…
A bit of context first: Paris wasn’t our main destination, it was a mere ‘stopping point’ on our way from Avignon to London via the TGV. I’d always wanted to see Montmarte and it was a good excuse for a short stay to accomplish that goal…
We arrived in Paris at around 4pm and rushed to the hotel that we’d booked right next to the train station so we could drop our luggage, change out of our grimy travel clothes, and get on to the city.
Note: if you book a hotwire.com hotel the day before your Paris arrival. And if you decide to go with the one closest to Montmarte to ease your plan of getting to see the sun set from Sacre Coeur. And if you just close your eyes to the awful reviews and book that $99 hotel. Well, maybe you’ll understand what happened next…
We arrived at our hotel, only to be told by the proprietor that we’d been moved to another ‘nearby’ hotel because they were overbooked. In some broken French he explained that our new hotel was “just around the corner” and gestured randomly towards the door.
I didn’t care. Because I was in Paris.
We started walking and consulting our phone GPS. It was not “just around the corner.” It was a mile away. But, wow, we arrive and find we are closer to Sacre Coeur than before. A good omen, to be sure.
Our room was on the sixth floor. No elevator, of course. And every step of those staircases was a different height and a different angle. The handrails were…not much better than the stairs. Our room was, of course, the highest and most remote.
The rooftops of Paris! What could be more exciting!
Though most of the windows looked out onto some dreary brick walls, the view from the window in the bathroom was perfectly spectacular if you were sitting on the toilet and looking up.
We changed our clothes and set out to see the sunset. I wore my favorite “little black dress,” stockings and ballet flats, in anticipation of a nice dinner in Paris and because I also knew that I wanted whatever photos we took to look nice (not wearing the same grungy travel clothes that I’d been wearing through humid Provence).
And success. Stairs climbed, city seen from above.
Perhaps due to the long day of travel or due to any manner of something-else, my prosthetic leg kept twisting around sidewards as we walked the streets of Paris. It was the strangest thing to look down and see my toes pointing at my other foot rather than straight ahead. Added to that was the difficulty in walking I was having because of spraining two of my left toes the day before. It made for the strangest loping gait. I affected my best-possible imitation of a tipsy American walking the streets of Paris and just kept plowing forward. And we headed towards the canals to find a place for dinner.
Shortly after we ordered out dinner, the power went out in the restaurant. It soon became clear that it wasn’t an entirely uncommon happening–waiters wandering around opening various wall panels in an attempt to re-set the appropriate set of ancient fuses to bring power back to the kitchen.
By the time we finished eating and talking, it was nearly midnite. We wandered the streets for a few miles before returning to the hotel, making that climb to the top floor in the dark.
Morning came all-too-early as we left the hotel at 4:30am to catch the TGV to London. A brisk walk with luggage in tow and we made it just in time to buy a latte and a chocolate croissant for the train.
We didn’t see any of my Paris favorites while were in town. I didn’t nosh a macaron or wander in my favorite shops. And it didn’t turn out anything like the ‘fantasy’ Paris trips that one would read about in a novel (more mishaps than dreams-come-true, I’d say).
But I didn’t care, I was in Paris.