Spring has come to Paris. The trees lining the Rive Gauche are laughing a shower of pink and white blossoms at the sapphire blue skies reflected in the Seine. It is perfect weather for walking and humming, “April in Paris,” two days early.
While the Czech and Germany were grey and intermittently rainy or snowy, France seems to have emerged from the early spring gloom and all of Paris has put on a spring coat and turned out to welcome the sun back to the northern hemisphere. The Tuilieres gardens, next to the LOuvre, were filled with sunbathers and children laughing and running to a background of carousel music that was just right. Houseboats of every shape and size line the river and ladies can be seen tending plants in big pots on their decks. Presumably preparing their kitchen gardens for the growing season.
We shared Spanish strawberries with Chopin the day before yesterday. He’s buried in the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery, about a half mile’s walk from the Bastille. His carved face in white marble reflected the sunshine and he seemed quite as happy as we were to be warmed by it’s rays. Jim Morrison, buried on the other side, wasn’t quite as social. He seemed wrapped in gloom beneath a blanket of wilting flowers and mini-bar bottles of Jack Daniels… much the same in death as I imagine him having been in life. He didn’t want any strawberries. Pere Lachaise Cemetery is one of the most visited cemeteries in the world and is a veritable labyrinth of tombs and family vaults. It brings to mind clandestine meetings of spies in old movies, and mysterious black shrouded ladies, heads bowed, carrying flowers to some unknown grave. Neither were in attendance when we visited.
Today is our last day in Paris. The bikes are packaged happily in boxes procured by our friend Thomas (Toe-mah… he’s french!) We’ll take one more long walk this morning, in search of a few last little treasures and one more lunch of crepes before we head for home. If you ever get the chance to come to Paris, take it. Sure, it might be expensive, it might be a bit cliche, it’s definitely touristy, but it is also very worth it. Do the art museums, and the cultural meccas, climb the metal asparagus… but stay long enough to just walk the Seine, buy crepes at an out of the way hole in the wall and find a Sunday market run mostly by North Africans selling artichokes as big as your youngest child’s head. Hannah says to tell you to find the good cheese too… in the shops that you smell before you see them. That’s how you’ll know you’ve REALLY been to Paris.