For now though, I'll leave you with this: I love Paris. I love the food, I love the architecture, the monuments, the art, the language, even the people. Especially the people. There's some great people watching in Paris. *Warning, the following story is not for those with a vivid imagination and an easy gag reflex*
The "but" is this: I have never been in a city that's streets were so smeared in dog shit, so filled with someone puking on this corner or peeing on that one (yes, the man peeing it was in Place Pigalle--where the Moulin Rouge is--but it was also at about 11:00 in the morning) We realized after an incident waiting to go into the towers of Notre Dame where a line full of people managed to smear dog shit to and fro in front of Notre Dame, that it was important to look down, even if you were in amazement over some feat of French architecture. On our last morning in Paris we get up and head down to the boulangerie for a farewell baguette breakfast. As we're going I hear someone across the street who appears to be in the death throes of tuberculosis. We cross the street, given the fact that we have plane travel in our near future. On the way back he's gone, so we pass by where he was. Apparently, he was not hacking up a lung but his last night's dinner. Just in time for us to step over it on our way to breakfast.
After packing everything up, we had a little time before we had to leave, so we decided to walk down along the quay on the Seine. It's lovely, the leaves are turning, it's quiet at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. We put our arms around each other, so happy to be together, to have had this wonderful trip. We hear (and then see) a couple of police boats charging up the Seine, some of whom appear to have dry suits on. They seem to be scanning the river from side to side. And then I realize that there's something strapped to a board, and wrapped up in plastic that looks like it can be nothing other than a body. I ask Mr. Bump if he sees it, and he does, and that's what it looks like to him too. The police have pulled a body out of the Seine, it seems. And given the number of corks stuck in the slats of the pedestrian bridge just above where we're standing, it is chilling but not surprising. We start to wander on, arms around each other and wide-eyed with big city shock, pulling the hayseeds from our teeth. I'm scanning the ground for yellow puddles and/or dog turds when I smell something, aside and behind a corner, that smells horrible. But not in a dog turd kind of way. Our romantic Parisian morning is buzzkilled not only by the body wrapped in plastic on a police boat on the river, but by the toilet someone made for themselves on the quay of the Seine.
Ah, Paris! You sure know how to make someone fall for you. Paris may be for lovers, but the lovers need to make sure they've got shoes they can hose off.