One of the perks of my work is travel to often romantic locations. For the first time, I took the opportunity to extend a stay, this time in France, because my lady was also on the trip. We had 4 nights and 3 days in Paris together. As an added bonus, both of us have visited Paris before so our must-see list was mostly accomplished on prior visits. So we emphasized relaxation and new destinations when considering our itinerary.
A quick Google search helped guide us to new spots, most of them well off the beaten path and away from the tourist hordes. It is truly a luxury to have time to wander Paris. It is one of the world's most beautiful cities. And even living an entire lifetime there wouldn't afford one enough time to fully explore The City of Light. An area that I had never visited before was Le Marais in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. My bride and I both wanted to see the Hotel Carnavalet, a 16th century mansion that now houses a museum on the history of Paris. The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts from the French Revolution (including the key that locked the door to the jail that held King Louis XVI before his execution by guillotine) and a huge painting collection. The furniture of Marcel Proust's bedroom was also on display.
While the obvious differences and delicacies of France are well-known, being there in person allows one to observe the daily lives of Parisians and to see the latest fashions (whether clothing or otherwise). For urban transport two things really stuck out: 3-wheeled motorized scooters with 2 front wheels and folding, human-powered scooters that both adults and kids seem to love. Outside a school we saw piles of kick scooters locked up in the place normally reserved for bicycles. Outside the Pei pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, we saw a father and daughter scooting around the sites. A middle-aged man scooted across a busy intersection near Les Invalides. It is a novel means of conveyance, efficient in both movement and in size. Compared to a bike, scooters are positively tiny.
Most disturbing were the 3-wheeled motorized scooters. For crying out loud, they're horrible! Of course, that's just my opinion and I'm sure there are reasons that someone might want to waste their money and their image on riding such a contraption. But without being mean spirited, I can't voice that here.
Also fun when overseas is to intentionally misinterpret signage and to laugh at poor translations. I speak French fairly well and so acted as a guide of sorts to my wife. Near the Eiffel Tower, there was signage asking walkers to use the provided trash cans. Of course, the visual obviously, and yet tastefully, depicted two people vomiting into those trash cans. I laughed my head off!
I wasn't able to get a photo of the last, perhaps most interesting, oddity that I found. In a public pay toilet (they're common in France and worth every penny for a clean place to relieve oneself), above the aging and yet well-maintained stall door there was an analog counter that recorded the number of times a door was opened and closed each day. I'm guessing that the counts are used to help monitor and adjust the frequency of cleaning. It was a wonderful, low-tech way to keep tabs that had obviously worked for decades.
On the whole, our trip was a great success. We had a fantastic time, ate well, slept plenty and warmed many cafe seats. But after 3 days of fun, we were both ready to head home. While in France, we managed to miss a blizzard that hit Colorado's Front Range. But upon our arrival in Denver the weather had turned for a brisk, sunny Easter day that we shared with family, a nice homecoming.