April in Paris 

April 30, 2023

DL232 to CDG

   Regular readers of this space (and Catholics may possibly earn a plenary indulgence for doing so) might think we’re still on the road since early March. But this is part two of our Eurail journey that picked up again on Easter Sunday, after an almost three-week hiatus, partly to host a visit from my daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters. We tried to start this chapter somewhere other than Paris, but the standby numbers were too good to ignore. Plus, we’d secured the plum we’d failed to get the first time around: seat reservations on the Paris to Barcelona TGV high speed line, that six-hour one sweet ride I’d first reveled in as a solo traveler back in 2018.

Yes, sometimes our life is like a Woody Allen movie – “the earlier ones, the funnier ones, of course.”

   Carol and I were determined to make the most of a second stay in the City of Light, though. The number #69 bus is a Rick Steves’ recommended way to see the major sites of the city the way the locals do. Turned out it was just down the street from our hotel, and for two euros and change, we were treated to a glimpse of Notre Dame, the Louvre, Pont Neuf, the golden domed Invalides, the glass-roofed Palais Justice and the Eiffel Tower. (How do workers get anything done after a commute like that?) A missed bus stop later on brought us near the Pantheon, but afforded us the opportunity to do a little fan-stalking to the steps of the Saint Etienne du Mont church filmed in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Waiting for his ride back to the Lost Generation

   Next, we rejoined the tourist crowd for a trip to the top of Tower Montparnasse, the black monolithic monstrosity that is the eyesore from the Georges Pompidou-era of imitating American architectural ugliness. But here’s the thing. If you pay the 40 euros to ride to the top, you get to see Paris with the Eiffel Tower as the central attraction. But paying a higher tariff to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower yields only a view of…you guessed it.

Paris’s attempt to imitate Chicago. Why, Paris?

    And here’s the other thing we discovered. You can pay 40 euros to buy a timed entrance ticket and wait in line at Tower Montparnasse or just say you’re going to the restaurant on the same floor for drinks and/or food. For free. No lines. No waiting. So for our 40 euros, we got several glasses of wine, a cheese board and a view of the Eiffel Tower from a cozy table and chairs, instead of standing on an observation deck looking out to the side of the city opposite the Eiffel Tower. Yet, they were all piled up like stove wood in line to do just that, as we contentedly ordered another glass of chilled white, while admiring the architectural wonder of Gustave Eiffel’s erector set.

“I love the rain…”

   We wound up this Paris stint with a pleasant dinner in the Cafe Coin across the street from our hotel as a gentle Parisian rain “washed memories from the sidewalks of life.” And then Gil Pender walked his Gabrielle back to our hotel, and ready for the Vicky Cristina Barcelona adventure to begin next. Yes, sometimes our life is like a Woody Allen movie – “the earlier ones, the funnier ones, of course.”

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