LES DEUX AMIS EN FRANCE
Return to Paris: The Final Day • Tuesday, June 14
In the morning, DeLinda and I quietly gather our things, return the rental car, and walk to the train station. Our road trip complete, we make our way via high speed Eurorail from Annecy four hours back to Paris.
The train ride is fascinating. Out from the mountains, back through flat countryside and rolling patterns of green hills and trees, past white-dotted landscapes with sheep and cows, until the cities begin to reappear outside the window. Across the aisle, a lovely Frenchman serves as additional scenic view — his certainly-Roman profile with dark curled hair inspires day-lit dreams.
Scroll right to see some photos en route.
We arrive at Paris Gare Lyon at 13:00 to unexpected heat and humidity that drop down on us heavily as we exit the train. The station reminds me of an Impressionist painting, though I know not by whom. It is frenzied with activity this day. Perhaps the unexpected wave of summer heat initiates a grand exodus from the city? We would be of like mind, were it not our last full day in France.
Lugging our belongings, we quickly exit the un-air conditioned station and find a taxi to take us to our final stop, Hôtel Splendid Etoile, or “splendid star.” This last night is our one splurge—a four-star 250€ a night hotel located one block west of the Arc de Triomphe. We count not one, but three well-appointed spaces in this room: a bedroom with two twin beds more than a foot apart, a dresser and crystal chandelier; a sitting room with couches and a television; and a bathroom with toilet, bidet and full shower (complete with shower curtain and overhead nozzle), set against floor-to-ceiling marble. It is grand, and the 10-foot windows offer up new views of the city and the very top of the Arc de Triomphe.
A blanket of summer envelops us as we exit the hotel and cross the street for lunch. It has been a mere seven hours since we left Annecy, but the heat makes it feel longer. We dine on light salads and cold water before quickly returning to our air-conditioned hotel for naps.
Some three hours later, we leave the Hôtel Splendid Etoile and wander off into Paris for our final evening. We are determined to see the lights of the “City of Lights” before we leave for home.
In no hurry — it is only 7:00 with hours until sunset — we walk through the Le Quartier de Chaillot, past fancy shops and grand houses. France is playing in the World Cup soccer tournament this day, and crowds of cheering fans gather in local cafés for the event.
A block away from the Seine, we find a rather cosmopolitan bistro, deVèz, and dine street-side near Place de L’Alma—our final meal in France. We are quiet; tired, no doubt, reflecting on the many days, amazed this is our last. The expressions on our faces tell it all — we have done it. On our own, by ourselves, without major incident. We have done this. We have done this!
After dinner, we wander…crossing the street with le petit homme vert, past the Grand Palais, over the Seine across Pont Alexandre III once more, through the park of perfectly manicured trees, towards the Eiffel Tower. Backtracking, almost, the steps of our first days here in France.
La difference? The sun sets, the sky goes dark, and — as if on cue — the Eiffel Tower beams in a grand display of sparkling lights and illumination. A celebration, it seems, for us and our grand adventure. Les Deux Amis en France…finalement.
• • •
Les Deux Amis En France, ©2011 Jen Payne. All rights reserved.
• C’est La Vie
• La Plus Longue Journée
• À Travers La Ville
• Petits Oeuvres D’art
• Escalier au Ciel
• Plus Escaliers et Alors Nous Arrêtons
• Le Voyage de la Route!
• Les Américains
• Saints et Soldats
• Tapisserie et Tripe
• Sur La Route Encore
• Visions de Monet et des Montagnes
• Choix d’un Pas Plus Lent
• Été sur Le Lac
Photos ©2011, Jen Payne, DeLinda Fox.