Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yes, I went to Paris and bought a scarf

Today is my last day in Paris. Of course, it's also the day that I feel less tired and my feet aren't planning to somehow secede from the rest of my body. Isn't that always how the last day of a vacation works?

While I may not sport the latest designer fashions, I've always been an ardent follower of the major design houses, particularly Chanel. I remember receiving a bottle of Chanel No. 5 for a birthday present in my teens. The box was one of the Andy Warhol prints (I think I still have it somewhere). It was quite a jump from Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth perfume to Chanel No. 5 but that's the kind of girl that I am. When I graduated from high school my family took a trip to New York to see Rent (original cast y'all) and we made a stop at the Chanel store there. It was amazing.

I walked by several of the Chanel stores while here but didn't go in mostly because I'm certain that I looked like I had been walking around Paris all day and was not feeling the least bit fashionable. So how did I begin my last day in Paris? By visiting one of Coco Chanel's old haunts, Angelina. I had read about Angelina years ago in a biography of Chanel and then it came back up more recently as I read Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas. Thomas spent a year living in Paris and wrote about her visits to patisseries and boulangeries around the city. I recommend it to anyone interested in planning a trip to Paris based solely on eating sweets and bread.

The specialty of the house, le chocolat chaud l’Africain, is amazing. It's a rich, dark chocolate served in a small pot with whipped cream. It's heavenly. I also enjoyed some pastries with Angelina's mountain honey and strawberry jam. If you ever visit Angelina's make sure to have a croissant with honey. It's perfection. The tea room itself is the exact opposite of Coco Chanel's aesthetic - it's ornate with pastel murals and chandeliers. But elegant like Chanel. I'm glad that I got there when I did (early in the morning); when I walked by later it was packed and there was a long line.

After finishing breakfast, I continued walking down Rue de Rivoli past shops selling berets and miniature Eiffel Towers. It's been much colder than I anticipated so I broke down and bought a scarf. Actually, I bought three (one is a gift). I don't get scarves. I'm fine with them in the winter but I don't get the scarf as just an accessory (which is why I can never live in Paris I guess). Yesterday at breakfast, I was chatting with an Australian couple who was also not prepared for the cold weather. The husband was conflicted about the scarf his wife bought him. He felt his friends back home would laugh at him for wearing it. His wife argued that as long as he was warm what did it matter? He then proceeded to tell me about how she also made him buy a shoulder bag (he called it his "man bag") and that he couldn't wear the scarf and the bag at the same time. They were hilarious. I hope they enjoyed the Louvre (where they were headed for the day).

I don't really know how to wear a scarf but I was cold and honestly, the scarf helped. I may just start wearing the pink scarf randomly just to wear it. I tied it a few different ways but ended up settling with the wrap around and loose tie to keep it in place. I'm supposed to be embracing new fashion choices so maybe the scarf is my new thing. I can't say for certain but I'm willing to try it again when I get home.

I did some shopping along the way to take a boat cruise of the Seine. I'm not the best souvenir shopper but I'm hoping that everyone will like what I got them. I figured there's always shopping at the airport tomorrow too. I decided to skip Versailles this time and take the boat cruise instead (this just means I have to come back to go to Versailles - genius on my part). The cruise was a nice leisurely cruise that stopped at several key spots along the Seine if you wanted to disembark. I took some additional pictures from the boat and just enjoyed the quiet tour (you know, quiet for a boat full of tourists). I was able to sit inside for the cruise which was a really good choice. I had seen some of the sights along the route earlier in the week but not the areas between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Hôtel de Ville. I did the full loop once and then went back to the stop near the Louvre so I could visit my last stop of the afternoon.

I've stopped in several parks and gardens this week. That's something else I love about Paris - there are so many parks (and some are right off super busy streets but you don't notice the traffic once you're inside). Le Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileres Garden) is located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. It was once a royal garden (remember the Louvre was actually a palace) and became a public park after the French Revolution. From the center, you can see all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. Had it been nicer out today, I probably would have stayed longer than I did. As I started walking back to the Metro, it started pouring again. Luckily, I was under a covered walkway and decided to stop at a cafe for a bit. I had a nice chat with some Americans in Paris on business. They were so excited to hear an American accent! We discussed our attempts at French (horrifying on all sides) and how traveling for work is not that much fun. I think they were a bit envious that I was here on holiday. They're off to Italy and the UK next.

I made it back to le petit studio before the skies opened up again. I'm hoping that by the time I finish packing the rain will have stopped and I can go out for a nice dinner and enjoy my final night in Paris.

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