May Day, May Day!

Today — May Day — is a national holiday in France. And because the French take their holidays seriously, the streets were pretty deserted at 7:30 this morning when I set out for a stroll.

I decided to walk along the Seine today, past the Institut du Monde Arabe and across the Jardin des Plantes. The sky was overcast, but a couple of stray sunbeams broke through just long enough to illuminate the poppies and cast long shadows off the plane trees.

As I pondered my next destination, I decided to abandon the no-way-to-get-lost safety of the Seine and stroll through some neighborhoods instead. The city felt eerily quiet, with its deserted sidewalks and shuttered shops. But I welcomed the solitude as an opportunity to savor the stores’ window displays.

Window-shopping is a national pastime in France, I think. It’s not uncommon to see someone meditating intently on a shop window, studying it as if it were a Renaissance masterpiece. And with good cause: Some stores’ windows truly are works of art. Others more closely resemble a museum, like this pharmacy’s somewhat macabre display.

Of course, I got hopelessly — though blissfully — lost. I wandered into a church on Rue Vaneau, where I met (but respectfully didn’t photograph) the world’s oldest priest. The church’s ornate interior was a sharp contrast to his plain, long white robe.

As I zig-zagged my way back to the hotel, the city slowly repopulated itself. The weekly markets began to sprout, as if out of the ground, and the ladies emerged with their almost-microscopic dogs.

With its quiet, leisurely pace, May Day is a good day to be in Paris. But I must say farewell for a while: I’m off to Freiburg to have some new adventures with some old friends. Back with more tomorrow … in German.


  1. I liked this post — great pictures and well-written, and more proof that you definitely know how to savor this city!

    So true about the seriousness towards vacation days here; you must’ve had most of the streets to yourself. And it doesn’t surprise me in the least that there’s a beautiful and interesting church on Rue Vaneau that I didn’t know about. Looking forward to some Germany posts!.

  2. I must have scrolled this post up and down 10 times to look at your photos and re-read your text. Both make this a beautiful report. Well done.
    I love that church and though I would have loved to see the world’s oldest priest, I hear you. Some things are best left to the imagination.
    Maybe I’ve said this before (I can’t remember) but you really should put all this together — your stories and photos in a book. I know, I know, there are lots of books on Paris but I think you can find a new angle that a publisher would be interested in.
    Enjoy Germany!

    • Wow. Thank you for making my day, Marcia! I’m still not convinced anyone could stand to read my narrative non-stop, but, well … you never know. As for Germany: I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve had no time to post anything. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂

  3. I remember my first purchase in a real Paris street market, two croisants, two slices of ham and a slice of cheese. Communication was mostly done with sign language but my lunch tasted all the more wonderful for the extra effort I’d put in to buy it.
    Thanks for the memory jog. 🙂

    • How wonderful that you still remember your first Paris-market purchase. Mine has faded into the fog of a thousand small transactions, I’m afraid … though I consider myself one very lucky girl to be able to say that!

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