8:00 AM → 8:00 PM. Twelve hours, right?
It’s actually 21 hours, given the nine-hour time difference between Paris and Portland. Twenty-one hours, and it never got dark.
We depart the Gare de Lyon with all the fanfare of a taxi departing a stoplight. A quiet and really fast taxi. But unlike any taxi I’ve ever known, and even though the Gare de Lyon is Paris’s central train station, we’re out of the city and watching grazing sheep on grassy knolls before we’ve even removed our coats.
This is our last Sunday in Paris, and it is magnificent. It happens to be May 1st, when people are buying and exchanging little bouquets of muguets des bois (Lilies of the Valley, pictured above), a lovely old tradition. It is also Labor Day here, a celebration of workers with a bit of a socialist tinge, so more people than usual have the day off. On top of all that, it has been sunny all day and the temperature is well into the 60s.
The River Seine is loaded, these days, with floating restaurants and other giant touring crafts. I asked my Paris friend Cathy Nolan which of the boat tours would be best, and she steered us to the original Bateaux Mouches, ginormous barges with hundreds of seats that cruise the river all day, and into the night.
The last time I saw the Avenue des Champs-Élysées (maybe 30 years ago), it was lined with stores that were terrifying to the average tourist. Designer boutiques, purveyors of Rolexes, Tiffany, and Cartier, all in little polished box stores with no excess of stock visible, attended by lean chic Parisiennes wearing dark suits, dark hose, and needle heels, plus that particular Parisian frown that signals that you’re in the wrong rodeo, cowboy.
To be in Paris for a month with no plans is something like gazing over a 26,000-acre box of chocolates. You won’t get to them all, but no matter where you start and where you go, it’s going to be delicious.
We’re back in Puerto Vallarta!
(Well, not for long. Ten days is all. We came down here to attend to a dental issue but when we got here we were told there really was no issue, so now our visit is entirely pleasure. We’re not disappointed. There’s no disappointment in Puerto Vallarta.)