Day one in Paris, an hour after arriving at Gare Montparnasse and checking in to the hotel.
Mark and Feng took the subway to the Louvre Museum area. My mom and I decided to walk from Montparnasse.
I loaded my mental map of Paris, the one I had drawn two weeks earlier when crossing Paris. Google Maps is probably more reliable but getting lost on purpose and finding your way around a big city is a fun exercise, especially in a very walkable and absolutely fascinating place like Paris.
“First, the Montparnasse Tower. Then we have to take one of the northbound avenues, like Rue de Rennes. We can explore Saint-Germain-des-Prés and we should find the Seine River to cross at the Pont des Arts or the Pont du Carrousel.”
Paris was quiet on this first Saturday of August. Many shops were closed until August 15—a bank holiday in France—or later and locals were probably enjoying time off as well.
We walked by fast-food restaurants, eateries, posh cafés and iconic brasseries like Les Deux Magots and the Café de Flore. We passed metro stations, some hidden, some with the 1920s globe-shaped lamp atop a “MÉTRO” sign surrounded by an ornate cast-iron frieze, some with the 1960s style, i.e. two stainless steel rings framing the interior-lit yellow “M.” We saw amazing buildings with ornaments and rooftop terraces—just imagine how much this type of property costs in Paris (hint, about €9000/sq m…).
“Feng? We’re about the cross the Seine. Where are you?”
“At the… MARK, WAIT!… Haunted… WANNA TALK TO MOMMY? AFTER, I SAID!”
“I’m pretty sure they are at the Tuileries Funfair,” I told my mom.
Ten minutes later, I found Mark and Feng in front of the haunted house.
“Mommy can I do it with you?”
And that’s how I found myself on the ghost ride with Mark who screamed on top of his lungs for a solid five minutes.
We walked through the Jardin des Tuileries until Place de la Concorde, then we took the Avenue des Champs-Élysées with a detour through super-posh Avenue Montaigne.
Admission is free at the Louvre Museum on the first Saturday of each month from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and my mom wanted to give it a shot. The three of them took the subway, I decided to walk and meet them in front of the pyramid.
Feng called me when I was on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
“Where are you?”
“Just a couple of blocks past Place de la Concorde.”
“Do NOT come to meet us at the pyramid—it’s fucking Tiananmen Square here, completely packed!”
Right. So everybody wants to enjoy the Louvre for free, big surprise.
I found them sitting by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
“There’s absolutely no way I’m joining the queue.”
“And there’s absolutely no point in queuing anyway. The museum closes in a couple of hours, that’s how long it’s going to take us to get in.”
By then, we were all exhausted and covered with dust—the Tuileries are dusty. We left the Louvre area and walked to the quieter Domaine National du Palais-Royal.
“You played here so often when you were a kid!” my mom said. Apparently, I used to run between the Daniel Buren’s striped columns in the courtyard when we visited my aunt and uncle in the 1980s.
Mark didn’t feel like running around. He was hungry. He was tired. He was thirsty. He was a pain in the ass.
We ended up in the small busy streets around the Forum des Halles—the guys had Chinese noodles, my mom and I explored the neighbourhood, then we all went to see Notre-Dame (… or what’s left of it) at sunset.
They took the subway back to the hotel, I walked—being in Paris is a treat and I didn’t mind being exhausted by the time I arrived, the only things I had to do were to take a shower and eat my Parisian dinner in bed, i.e. a quiche, a ham-and-cheese sandwich and some flan.
Not bad for a first day in Paris with no plans whatsoever.