Paris: Day 5, Part 1. Our “Paris Greeter” Experience.

Day 5 was a super busy day, so I am dividing into two parts.  Brian had not been feeling 100% this whole trip, and he felt the very worst this morning.  He had a fever & night sweats during the night, and woke up with the world’s worst sore throat.  Being a trooper, he took some ibuprofen and we stuck to our previously arranged meeting with our Paris Greeter.

Paris Greeter is something I stumbled upon through the forums at TripAdvisor.com.  Basically volunteers are paired with tourists for a 3-4 hour tour of the city, free of charge (more or less…they do ask for a donation to keep their program afloat).  Our appointment with our PG was planned for 12:30 p.m.  My military man had us arrive 30 minutes early, because we all know that ‘early’ is the definition of ‘on time’ (gotta love my Navy man).  This 30 minutes gave me a few minutes to take some photos & people watch the very busy area where we were slated to meet our guy. 

Our PG described himself in an email as “elderly and white bearded”…we had no idea how many elderly, white bearded gentlemen were roaming the streets of Paris until we were looking for the one that was trying to meet us!  Le Mistral in the photo above was our meeting point…we found our PG with little incident (the briefcase and darting eyes gave him away) and away we went!

I am embarrassed to say that we never actually caught our PG’s name.  He was incredibly enthusiastic about Paris, and about giving these tours.  His English was not the easiest to understand, so we found ourselves listening very closely & asking for things to be repeated on more than one occasion.  Still, it was an incredibly interesting experience & one I would recommend.  Our PG was very outgoing, and would stop and chat with just about everyone we passed on the street.  When he spoke in French, he and the other person would look at us & giggle.  Of course, we had no idea what they were saying (Again with the nail shop experience 🙂 )  One interesting guy had been a soldier in WWII.  Now he sold used books along side the Seine River.  He pointed to a ‘soldes’ sign on his books, and said he marked everything down to sell out.  His future plans were to sit in front of his big TV & die.  I guess he had enough?  I really wanted to look through some of his secondhand books because they looked quite interesting.  Unfortunately our PG was ready to dart off in another direction, as he moved forward with remarkable gait for a man in his 70’s. 

Our next stop was Shakespeare & Co.

Here is our PG engaged in conversation with the store clerk:

Next we were walking along & all of sudden our PG ducked into a hotel…Hotel Esmerelda.  He wanted us to see the inside of the lobby, with a staircase that dated back to the 1700’s:

Apparently he had a thing for staircases, as our next stop was a random office building, to check out this winding wrought iron rail:

As I mentioned earlier, Brian was not feeling well on Day 5.  The PG figured this out & immediately took us to the pharmacy:

With the help of our PG’s translation, the pharmacist prescribed some medication for Brian’s fever & sore throat, as well as a mouth rinse.  Then we were on our way once again.

While we were walking, we ran into two Americans that appeared to be lost.  The PG asked if they needed help, and the next thing I knew, these 2 had joined our Paris Greeter walking tour.  These 2 were from Arkansas, and they were a couple of strange cats.  The lady seemed resistant to joining us, but her friend could not be talked out of it.

Here we are with our new friends:

So, maybe we have seen one too many conspiracy theory movies, but Brian started to feel like this was a set up…It was a little too convenient that we just happened upon these people, and they just happened to join us on our walk, and they just happened to speak French.  It was all a little ‘familiar’.  Combine that, with the next stop on our ‘tour’ was a thieves passage (a long windy staircase that took us to another back alley), it had Brian all kinds of worried about stranger danger & he was putting the whole plot together in his head:

Luckily, it didn’t turn into a diabolical plot like he thought, but that certainly would have added some unexpected ‘dimension’ to our day!  And I am glad that someone is paying attention, because we all know that I am too busy taking pictures to have a clue.

Next we went by a wine shop with a cellar that dated back to the 1700’s.

 

Unfortunately it was closed.  I think our PG forgot that our tour was on a Monday, a day when lots of businesses are closed.  Several of the places on our stop we were only able to see from the outside.

A movie was being filmed by this cute cafe:

I didn’t see any celebs though.  Or at least, any that I recognized.

This place used to be a dorm back in the 1950’s, and our PG lived there for a summer during that time.  If we visit Paris again, I would check into staying there.  The room rates were very reasonable and it was loaded with character & charm…We stopped in for a Coke (and a smile) in their courtyard.

Comment on this post if you are interested in the name of this hotel…I have their business card mixed in with my souvenirs, and will gladly sift through for the contact information. 

We walked around the corner, and went by Hemingway’s apartment.  The French lovvvvve some Hemingway, and they even put up a plaque by his old place:

After walking around for another 20 minutes or so, we said Au Revoir to our Paris Greeter, and headed back to the 1st arr.

We exited one stop early from the subway to enjoy a streetside walk on Rue du Rivoli…As soon as we exited, we noticed a magazine photo shoot going on:

That was pretty neat to see!  I felt badly for the model in that big wedding gown, because the temperature was a boiling 96 degrees.

On the way back to our room, we stopped by our favorite market for some Heineken & snacks.  Even the liquor bottles are all dressed up in Paris:

Stay tuned for the rest of our Day 5 adventure…a walking tour of Montmartre, and a trip to the Moulin Rouge area…Time to get our Lady Marmalade on!

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