Day 25 Au Revoir Paris! Finally Isabel gets to the Park

mona lisa catOur last day in Paris was just as chock full as the first three.  We had to check out our apartment early because the next family was arriving by 10.  Actually, they arrived while we were still there, and poor them we made them wait outside until we were ready and the owner had arrived.   We decided to check our two small suitcases at Gare Montparnasse the main train station nearby and the site of the Air France airport bus that seemed like the best solution for us to get back to the airport.

We took a different street than usual and found the block we had been searching for all along – there was the small artisinal cheese shop, the fruit stand, the wine store that seemed to be desperately lacking on our walks.  We bought four different kinds of cheese for later on.  Finally the cool weather was beneficial!  We also discovered an eyeglass store and since the girls’ are in need of a new pair of glasses since they don’t have spare pairs this seemed like the perfect chance to get both a souvenir and something practical.  They picked out adorable frames and with the VAT refund we managed to come out ahead of buying them at home.  Though the dollar is so bad this is barely the case.

After buying the glasses Sophia declared that she was in heaven in Paris. “The food!  The hot chocolate!  The shopping!” She sang.  “Yeah,” Izzy agreed, “and the bread!”  So, I guess we did Paris right.  The sun came out and strolled through the open market with its stalls full of glorious seafood, cheeses, fruits and honey and made our way to the Luxembourg Gardens so they could finally get in that coveted playground.  Well, we discovered part of the reason that playground is so nice – you have to pay to get in!  Both adults and kids.  I have never in my life been to a playground that made you pay an entrance fee.  Even residents have to pay.  As far as I’m concerned if you’re going to charge me for coming to your playground you better provide babysitting.    I hate going to the playground as it is so to have to pay to watch my kids is really appalling.  What we realized was that many of the parents sit on the benches outside the fence and watch their kids inside the playground.  Sort of like being at a zoo watching the animals inside their cages.

The girls had a blast at the playground trying out the novel equipment and even made a friend who lived in Germany and spoke perfect English.  They were so relieved to communicate easily with another kid.  After the playground we walked over to the pony rides, or really donkeys.  I have pictures of my daughters on pony rides every year since their first one at 2 years old and their expression is still the same.  Pure joy.  It cracks me up how much they love to ride around the circle like they’re National Velvet.   After pony rides we were officially done with the Luxembourg Gardens and the clock was ticking so we headed out of the gardens towards the Latin Quarter so Corey could have his shwarma-French fries pita thing that he loves to eat in Paris.  It’s amazing how well you can eat in Paris by not eating French food.

We walked all the way up Boulevard Saint-Michel until we reached a café for lunch and Corey could dash across the street for his massive pig out sandwich thing.    After more hot chocolate and then some serious bread buying we called it a day, boarded the Metro to the train station, retrieved our luggage and got on the airport bus for our 6:30 pm flight back to Rome.

After endlessly waiting for our luggage that the Air France counter woman basically made us check even though we could’ve easily carried it on, we found our car in long term parking and began the hour long drive home to Tuscania.  The roads were black, the moon was a glowing sliver crescent like an apostrophe in the inky sky, and stars began to twinkle above.  The girls fell asleep in the backseat and we pulled into Tuscania imagining the quiet small town after three days in big city Paris only to find Tuscania more bustling than any night in Paris.

At 11:00 at night everyone was out in the town square and the park.  Families with little  ones watched their kids swing on the swings and climb the jungle gyms in the playgrounds.  Old people were strolling and talking on benches.  Couples and teenagers laughed and chatted at tables set up around everywhere.  The entire town was out and about enjoying the summer night, and a concert was going on in the distance.  So much for a sleepy town.  This is a real community in the true sense – not that everyone is the same, or that they run into each other because they all frequent the same places, but because the people of all ages continually congregate and hang out together.  This has got to be the healthiest way to grow old, surrounded by people of all ages and no need for a car.

We were happy to be back in our villa, listening to the music coming from the stadium miles away, and watching the spread of stars sparkle in the sky.  Probably the only people going to sleep by midnight in the entire town.

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