March 16, 2002
Got up earlier than anticipated and sloppily learned how to bathe in a teeny tiny tub; with no shower door or curtain to hold the splash in, it took some careful maneuvering and slow, cautious movements to avoid flooding the entire bathroom. We took the metro (what a tangled web!) from Rue Monge to Bin Hakim near the Eiffel Tower to meet up with our friends who were also visiting Paris. We shared a delicious, simple breakfast at a close-by patisserie: hot, flaky brioche, freshly squeezed OJ, and flavorful, rich strawberry yogurt (spoon not provided but readily pilfer-able at the cafes). The French sure know their pastries and dairy!
After sipping some cafe lattes at one of the ubiquitous Parisian cafes, we studied the convoluted metro map and managed to find our way to Place de la Madeline for a full day of shopping (hey, window-shopping counts as shopping) at Cartier (shiny baubles galore), Gucci (skinny, weak-looking French guards keeping a watchful eye on the expensive items), Prada (skinny, snooty French salesgirls keeping a disinterested eye on the patrons), and Hermes (skinny, sneering clients keeping a darting, head-to-toe eye on their rivals). After downing cafe au laits near Chanel, we browsed through the incredibly pricey gourmet food shops Fauchon and Hediard. After a stroll along the gray Seine river, we warmed ourselves with mochas at Maxim's (next door to Minim's). After imbibing coffee in various incarnations all day long, we paused at the swank, sumptuous Hotel de Crillon (single room runs about $650 a night) to use their polished, gleaming facilities. Relieved in style, we continued our exploration of the Champs Elysees from Place de la Concorde (where we saw these guys really getting into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day) to the Arc de Triomph. In no hurry, we paused at window displays, avoided stepping in any crotte de chien, and loitered for a while to watch an old man attempt to park his gargantuan Mercedes on the sidewalk (the same one we were standing on) and shoving and bumping lesser cars along the way. Poor little Smart Cars.
To avoid the drizzling rain, we ducked into and wandered around the glamorous George V Four Seasons Hotel as though we were contemplating dropping $800 on a "standard rate" room. Around 11 pm, our legs were wobbly and our tummies were grumbly. We meandered around aimlessly (is there any other way to meander?) for a while and ended up having a great meal at the nearby Italian restaurant Findi. It was close to midnight by the time we finished dinner. We did not feel like standing in the long lines for a taxi on the bustling, busy Champs Elysees, so we made a mad dash for the metro to catch the last train home. One yellow to pink connection later, we were back at Place Monge by 1 am, kicked up our weary feet, and slept the sleep of the dead.