After the Crowd Goes Home

It’s been just over a year since I, and 23 million others, visited the world’s top tourist destination: Paris! Admit I must – été le coup de foudre, it was love at first sight. The serendipitous arrival in mid February had more to do with a botched party than a grand master plan. Yet, I could not have orchestrated a better trip even if I had tried.

La Tour Eiffel by moonlight.

As a December baby, I’m used to ignoring the date of my birth, when the world’s madness hits a deafening peak around the holidays. But, in 2016 I hit the big five-o and decided that a bash was in order. A quaint venue along the New River was going to provide the pseudo Seine set (like Goldie Hawn’s in Everyone Says I Love You) for my Paris-themed party. My Pintrest board was brimming with Parisian icons and wardrobe ideas. From Coco to cakes to candelabras; I was ready! Fortunately, as it turned out, the venue manager double booked my date and I was #2.

The wisdom that comes from being alive for half a century must have finally kicked in. After hanging up the phone with the manager, instead of getting upset, I decided to go with the flow and replace the Paris-themed party with an actual trip to the City of Light! A couple of online hours later, I had booked an incredibly cheap flight to Paris… in February.

Notre-Dame de Paris along Seine from the new Pont de l’Archeveche

It turns out even the locals leave town this time of year so the perfect swap through HomeExchange (a lovely 3/2 apartment with a view of la Tour Eiffel) complete with a Citroen and a stocked réfrigérateur, was available. TomTom and I got behind the wheel for a crash course (no pun intended) on the most remarkable arrondissements, which I later walked with the new retro Fuji XT2. More than three thousand photos later, I am convinced that Paris is better after the crowd goes home…

Quai de Montebello

In February: the trees are bare exposing the glory of French architecture from every period:  Gothic, Renaissance, Revival, Belle Epoque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco & Post Modern. The queues at museums and monuments are bearable. Chilly days are best to walk all day. Driving is possible in the city. No trip to the fashion capital of the world would be complete without a little shopping; maximum le soldes signs. Last but not least, there is always a seat available at your favorite brasserie without a long wait. In the end, I got to have my 50th bash and the best birthday present yet!

Brasserie l’Alsace on Champs-Elysees
Driving around Arc de Triomphe in February? Piece of cake!