By the time our train pulled into the Gare du Nord, next morning, the rain had stopped and the clouds were starting to break up a bit. It was still gray and damp, though, and a chilly wind was blowing. I don't think Phyllis was greatly impressed at first; I wouldn't have been, if I hadn't seen the place on better days.
The next couple of hours were spent yomping around in search of a room - it was Sunday morning and nobody seemed to have any vacancies - while our packs grew steadily heavier. We had made a point of traveling light, paring our gear down to Spartan simplicity, because of the airport security situation; our packs had weighed in at just under eight pounds apiece at O'Hare. Now, however, they had somehow attained the approximate weight of a couple of small pianos. Nobody has offered a scientific explanation of this well-known phenomenon.
We finally found a room at the Hotel Rivoli, a small and thoroughly shabby old dump just off the Rue de Rivoli, across from the old Hôtel de Ville - basically City Hall - on a side street called the Rue des Mauvaise Garçons. Yes. The Street of the Bad Boys. It turned out to be a gay neighborhood. Make up your own joke.
We dumped our things and went out in search of sustenance. The shops along the Rivoli and the Rue St. Antoine (same street, name change halfway down; Paris can drive you crazy that way) offered all sorts of temptations, and we did not resist; we stocked up on sandwiches au fromage and au jambon and au sauçisson and au whatever else looked good, with of course desserts and suitable liquids, and went over to the Place des Vosges and had ourselves a little pigout. By now the day had warmed up a bit and the beautiful 17th-century buildings around the Place did a fine job of breaking the wind.
The arcaded walks around the Place were alive with their usual Sunday-afternoon contingents of musicians and hucksters. This group was doing some fine things with Mozart.
We spent most of the rest of the day wandering around the Marais, looking at this and that. In the evening we went to a café I remembered from last year, over on the Rue St. Antoine, and had ourselves a splendid dinner while watching the people pass.
Later, we walked along beside the river, along the Left Bank, admiring the lights of Paris, pausing here and there for affectionate moments. (I.e., having a bit of a snog.) It was all very romantic but then it started to rain again and we had to haul ass back to the hotel.
NEXT: THE LEFT BANK AND ALL THAT
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