We saved a walking tour until our last day, hoping that the sun would come out and burn off the mist hanging over the city. Unfortunately, no. If anything it got worse, and our tour was cold and rainy. But we would not be deterred: I put on my mittens and we headed out to the Eiffel Tower.
For some reason I was convinced the Eiffel Tower was black. Maybe cartoons and pop art have led me astray, but I was sure it would be shiny, black metal spiraling up into the sky. But as we walked toward it and watched it creep into view through the fog, I realized it was brown! A light brown-beige color of untreated metal. My world was shattered.
It was still neat to see. But we just walked on past. Because it was cold. And there are only so many touristy pictures you need of your sister pretending to hold up the Eiffel Tower.
We powered on to the Arc de Triomphe. It was in the middle of a busy traffic circle so we just snapped some shots from afar and decided to catch the train. And there are only so many touristy pictures you need of your sister pretending to hold up the Arc de Triomphe.
We were headed to Montmartre. We were both pretty excited about this one – both of us studied art history and couldn’t wait to see this place that had inspired so many amazing artists.
…It was not very exciting. I mean, it was incredible to be there, but it was dirty and filled with too many tourists. It looked like a hobo town, with run-down shops and cracked pavement. Stores were bursting kitsch through their windows and garbage from their alleys. Hawkers were selling tiny Eiffel Towers (painted black!) all over the place. A random busker had carried a full-size harp up to the top of the cathedral stairs and was playing a mediocre version of Coldplay or something.
We wandered around the hill top, aghast at the cheap trinkets and street art for sale, with at least six caricature painters following us around, until we finally settled in a cafe for an expensive snack. The whole thing was a bit disappointing, but at least we did it. And it meant that we could reward ourselves with some shopping and a lavish dinner later on.
We decided to go looking for an oyster bar. The first one we tried turned out to only have oysters on Sunday (why?? no idea). So we wandered around to Saint Germain, grabbed some beers and watched the people for a while. Then we found a great seafood place nearby and settled in for our last big night in Paris. The oysters were great – served on steaming dry ice – the drinks were great, the company was great – a perfect ending to a wonderful trip.
The next day we headed off to the airport – my suitcase (and me) both at least 10 pounds heavier than when we arrived. But I had about 10,000 steps back through the metro to burn it off. I waved goodbye to Cheryl and spent the next eight cold, boring hours waiting for my plane. They really need to heat the airport.
Au revoir, Paris!