The last time we were in Paris, I wasn’t sure I was still in love with the city. I was recovering from a pinched nerve, we’d spent weeks in France already, the weather wasn’t great, and somehow the magic wasn’t there.
Coming back for my 60th birthday celebration, though, the magic returned. It’s not that the weather had turned great; it was cold and damp nearly the whole time we were there. But the rest of it was fabulous. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that we were sharing the city, and my birthday, with my sister Rebecca, Mark’s sister Jeanne, and our great friend Laura (she of recent Greece travels). So for four days the five of us walked, strolled, and wandered. We ate and drank our way around the city.
Her first morning in Paris Becky went for a run. Didn’t work out so well, so here we are entering the emergency room.
There’s one story worth telling. On her first morning ever in Paris, my sister and I went for a run. I was surprised by how dark it still was at 7:00 AM, but that’s a great time to run. I showed her how to get down to the river and then took off on my own. Just a mile or so into her run, she fell on some uneven pavement … and ended up with a gash in her hand requiring stitches and, we’ve since learned, perhaps a torn rotator cuff. Bleeding and sore, she got back to the hotel on her own before we insisted she go to the emergency room.
So off we went to Hôtel-Dieu, dating from the 7th century and thus the world’s oldest hospital. Service was great; they saw her initially in about 15 minutes and had her sewn up within maybe 90 minutes. My biggest concern was when I used the rest room while she was in with the doctor and found there was no soap or even soap dispenser – in a bathroom in a hospital! I was tempted to barge into the room where she was being treated to see if there were leeches or anything.
And then there’s the whole billing thing. We now have a bit of experience in French emergency rooms but have yet to receive a bill for a single penny. In theory the Hôtel-Dieu is supposed to send Rebecca a bill to her home in Duluth but I’ll believe it when she sees it.
Beyond that – great fun, great food, great friends – there’s not much to say about Paris that hasn’t already been said so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Lest you think the torn hand and other injuries slowed her down, Becky seemed to be having a good time at the Eiffel Tower
And at the Arc de Triomphe
Even at Place St. Georges where the five of us had a glorious lunch
Laura had fun, too. Here she is modeling her brand new Paris scarf, most necessary in the chilly October air.
She waited until the last day to savor a coffee éclair, but apparently it was worth the wait
Playing in a big statue outside the church of St. Eustache
Rebecca was a big fan of imitating statues and it turns out Jeanne was a natural here in the Luxembourg Gardens
And Becky and I weren’t the only ones with Squares named after us
The girls in front of the Louvre. It was the first time they were all together since we all went into the Boundary Waters in 1994. Let’s not wait another 21 years to do it again!
Mark & I were pretty happy, too. Here we are in the Place des Vosages the day after everyone else left. The blue sky was rare and fleeting.
Mark in the gardens of the Palais Royal where we enjoyed a brief rest in a tiny bit of sun
Favorite places in Paris? This is one of mine, Park Monceau. On a sunny day this field is crowded with people but on my birthday it was beautiful and quiet.
Park Butte-Chaumont is another of my favorite spots in Paris, set on a hill high above the rest of the city
And of course the Luxembourg Gardens
Again, on a warm day the chairs in the Luxembourg Gardens are always full. Not so this day.
When in Paris we usually stay at the Hotel Agora St. Germaine. Over the years I’ve learned to love the Thursday/Saturday market near the hotel.
Must have been the season for scallops, since I don’t remember seeing them before. Here they were, though, in our neighborhood market.
When it comes to favorite sites, Notre Dame – just a couple blocks from our hotel – is high on the list
Another shot of Notre Dame against the always-threatening sky
Our first view of the Eiffel Tower, the top shrouded in mist
The grounds beneath the Eiffel Tower. We weren’t sure it made sense to climb it given the mist and weather and all, but the view was still beautiful.
The Museum d’Orsay is always one of my favorites. This picture, The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet, was one of my father’s favorites; we had a copy hanging in the dining room when I was a boy. We learned it was one of Laura’s mother’s favorites, too; they, too, had it in their home!
Mark & I were going to leave Paris the same day the rest did, but then we learned that our friends Chris & Joey and their girls were arriving that day. So we stayed one more day – such a sacrifice! – and had dinner with them. Here I am enjoying a moment with Gabriela.
And finally, a word about steak tartare. I could eat it every day. Wait, I DID eat it every day!