I started off Wednesday with the local market again – this time I got peaches and a quiche lorraine for breakfast.
On this hottest day of the week (102 degrees), we had the afternoon free. Some people went to museums or just stayed inside to rest. I decided to visit a mall for a bit because it was air conditioned and took less time than a museum. Galeries Lafayette is a really fancy mall with a huge dome roof like some of the churches we’ve been to.
Inside, it’s almost like a bazaar with stations of different brands, instead of rooms. They just have their products laid out on tables and in shelves out in the open, with lots of security guards around to watch you. This is probably the most expensive mall I’ve been to – the stores are all designers from Coach, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Chanel, Prada – all those. Around the circumference are the stores, and then in the open center there are little stations for makeup. The bottom floor is purses, where I looked the most, then clothing on the upper levels.
Edit: I went back another day and bought a Marc Jacobs wallet. Even though he’s American, I can still say I got a designer handbag in Paris. Woohoo! I really needed a new one so it was a special treat.
The mall was insane. Since all the sales are going on in Paris, all the designer items were 50% off, so people were shoving left and right to grab up whatever they could like some sort of weird shopoholic horror movie. Even though the sale has been going on for a week! Shopping is the only area I’ve noticed where Americans are more polite than French. Even in local boutiques, people have no personal bubbles. If I’m looking at a rack of clothing, people come up and look at the shirt right next to yours and put their hands in your space. It’s normal here apparently.
At 6:45 p.m. we all met to go on a class picnic near the river by the Mabillon metro stop. It was really nice eating cheese, meats, breads, fruits, juice and cookies on the edge in the golden light. The whole bank was covered with people picnicking – it’s definitely a favorite pastime here.
Though we had a night walk, it was still unbearably hot. Between the humidity and the smoke, the air is just so thick and stuffy. It felt like a sauna as we embarked on a 2.5 hour walk. People kept buying water bottles for like 2 euros each every time we passed a market because they were dropping like flies.
The theme of this trip was kind of rags to riches, as we first started in the more poor, scandalous neighborhood where prostitutes hang out in the streets when it’s darker. Teo said in Paris, prostitution is legal and even unionized. The streets still looked nice because it was Paris, but we saw a huge cluster of pigeons and even a rat (i.e. Remi from Ratatouille).
Soon we turned towards the nicer streets like Boulevard des Capucines. The sunset was radiant as it peeped over the rooftops.
I enjoyed this part because it felt like a vibrant city with lights, marquees, cars, and a large road. Teo said there was no shame in going back if we were collapsing from heat, but someone shouted “Come on, if Teo can do it, we can do it.” And Teo joked that he is four times our age so we can make it to the end. And we did!
Soon we turned down the Rodeo Drive of Paris – the richest address of Paris lined with extravagant stores. The flagship Cartier, the Hyatt, the Ritz (which was under construction), Chanel and others all on this Rue de la Paix.
This is where we ended our tour. Teo pointed some of us towards the Tuileries Garden to savor the carnival at night. It’s very weird to see places I’ve seen in paintings – the Tuileries and Capucines – now turned modern with cars and amusement parks.
A group of us watched people on the rides and a few people went on one or two. We waited at the bottom of a water slide ride and splashed each other discreetly because it was so hot (even back at the hotel at 1 am, I checked and it was 82 degrees). One of the French people at the carnival noticed we were American and asked if we know Kanye West, which was so funny.
I boarded the ferris wheel with one girl, so we could see the whole city at night. It was very beautiful, with lights illuminating Sacre Coeur, the Eiffel, Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Arc, which were in all different directions around us. Magnifique!
Well, now I’m off to London for our long weekend with another girl. I think I might accidentally speak French to people there. Hopefully I will have Wifi to write about this upcoming adventure – au revoir!