Waking to a Marching Band

It’s Sunday in Paris! Our plan is to have a lazy morning in our quiet apartment, followed by breakfast (un petite dejeuner) in a corner café with giant Café au Laits. I am sitting in my bathrobe just waking when I hear what sounds like a marching band outside the window. Going to the window, this is what I see.

The view from my window


So for now, my NLEH and I are trapped in our apartment on the Ile St. Louis. Normally a quiet, little, ice cream-cone overrun village, the streets are packed with thousands of people not to mention a drum section. But shouldn’t every Sunday in Paris begin with a marching band? Every Sunday in Paris is a celebration!

Not to be stopped by a few thousand people wearing white hats, we eventually make our way to breakfast followed by a bike ride to the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower


On Sundays in Paris the roads along the Seine are closed to traffic and you can ride your bike for miles without fear of being run over by a taxi. We pedal along the river to the Eiffel Tower then realize that it’s time for lunch. Near the Eiffel Tower is a charming community called Rue Cler—a pedestrian mall with shops and cafes where we perch ourselves on a few café stools and watch the world walk by.

Rue Cler


On our way back to the apartment, we pedal up a steep hill and as we crest the top we are faced with a crowd of hundreds of roller bladers coming straight at us. We pull our bikes onto a sidewalk to move out of the way as the crowd passed and continue on our adventure.

Roller blades in Paris


Later, I learn that this group skates every Sunday different routes in town. It looks like a death wish to me but what do I know , maybe we should try it some day. Still if feels safer riding on a big clunky metal bicycle than being on two tiny wheels surrounded by a throng of maniac skaters.

We have never ridden East of the historic center so we continue East of Ile Saint Louis on the bike path to the Italian Center, an area that becomes more suburban and industrial. At four o’clock we flip around, ready to head back to the island to return our bicycles.

Here’s how Velib the do-it-yourself bicycle rental works: You visit any of the stations around the city and plug in your credit card. Then when you are finished, you simple put your bicycle back into the rack and receive a receipt that you’ve returned the bike. We approach the Velib stand at Notre Dame to find that all the “parking spots” are taken. We continue to another location three blocks away—thank goodness there’s a map of all the bike stations—where two available parking spots await us. Just minutes after we arrive, a line of people form behind us also searching for available parking spots and heading to the next Velib station.

Velib


What a lucky day! Waking to a marching band, avoiding a rollerblade run-in and parking spots for two! We must celebrate with a glass of wine!

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