A second Sunday in Paris

Last week I enjoyed the traditional Parisian lazy Sunday. Today, I woke up early and hit the streets.

Paris is always magical, but it’s especially so at dawn. The streets are empty, there’s barely any traffic, and along the river there’s often a hint of fog.

I started my day with a visit to the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian-only bridge near the Louvre. I’d noticed the beautiful texture of the wood benches earlier in the week; they were even lovelier in the morning’s soft light.

Then, I walked down the rue de Seine in St. Germain des Prés.

You could spend a year in that neighborhood and not see all of the tiny shops. I was glad to be there when the streets were desolate so I could browse at my leisure.

I visited the church and took the obligatory stroll past the famous cafés. A handful of patrons sat at the outdoor tables, looking vacantly into the distance. I wondered how many works of philosophy and literature had been hatched in those very chairs.

Then, I made my way toward the Luxembourg gardens. I wanted to be there by 10, so I could (hopefully) be near the front of the line to see the palace. To my dismay, the palace wasn’t participating in the Journées de la Patrimoine event. But the garden nurseries were open, at least. They were both impressive and sublime. The orchidariums—and there were several, with different climates—were my favorite.

As long as I was there, I hung around the gardens for a while. Maybe a hundred joggers were running in big circles around the perimeter as a handful of women did tai chi on the lawn. Families strolled, the kids on tricycles and scooters, and couples walked hand-in-hand down the shaded paths.

For the first time since I arrived, I felt lonely.

I spent the rest of the day wandering from monument to monument. But after waiting a half hour in line—with no perceptible progress—I decided to skip the observatory. And I didn’t even try to get into the catacombs; that line snaked around the block. The Hotel de Sens was open today, but ironically most of it was roped off.

Tired and a bit blue, I headed back to the apartment.

It’s my last Sunday in Paris. But tomorrow’s another day. I wonder where my feet will take me.

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