There are two things I could not live without. A pair of running shoes and coffee.
I have been blessed with the gift of travel, and my absolute favorite thing to do in any new city is to tie on my running shoes and hit the streets. I never quite know where I am going, but that is the beauty of the journey. I let my feet take me wherever they want to go.
In Paris, after 7 days of work (did I really just say that?), I kept the 8th day open. I woke up very early, had a large cup of coffee, put on my running shoes and headed out. It was so early the streets were empty, I ran down the middle of the street.
I believe the most magical time of day in a city is before it wakes. I encountered real life — an old man was walking his dog, a few young kids were stumbling home, a shopkeeper was sweeping his sidewalk, I could smell coffee brewing. Nothing was moving fast, except my feet.
As I passed Notre Dame, the sun was rising right behind that magnificent church. I wound through a maze of streets and found myself at the Panthéon. From there I could see across the city to the Eiffel Tower – it looked tiny. I set my intention to run to the Eiffel Tower passing as many of the Paris landmarks I possibly could along the way.
My first stop was Jardin du Luxembourg. The cute Parisian fireman were running in the park, I joined them. They look inquisitively at me and asked, “You are not from Paris are you?” “No” I answered, “Why?” “Paris girls do not run like you.” I think it was my baseball cap that gave me away. I took it as a compliment.
Onto St. Sulpice, where I saw the famous Meridian Line from the Da Vinci code. I continued down rue du Buci, lined with trendy restaurants and Paul’s Patisserie, where I devoured the most amazing almond croissant.
The Musée du Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries were right across the Seine River. I stopped at the Musée de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s Water Lilies, which I had always wanted to see but had never taken the time. Next, the Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris, to the Petit Palais where I peeked into the windows to see the current exhibit. There were extremely large slabs of metal tilted in awkward positions, I decided not to go in.
I stopped to shop on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées with a break at Ladurée for one of their famous macaroons and a café latte. I ran up through the Arc de Triomphe, then down and across the golden eagled Pont Alexandre Bridge. On the other side I saw hundreds of people sprawled on the green grass in front of the Les Invalides. I slowed to a stroll. Couples who were very fond of one another were spotted in between the shirtless soccer players. I definitely took my time.
I picked up the pace and by dusk I approached the Eiffel Tower. I had to go up. The sun was setting. The city lights came on. The sky lit up with the whirly bird toys the vendors were selling below. At the top I took the time to thank those that have given me this great gift of travel.
Under the lights of Paris, I ran down the Seine River all the way home and drew a hot bath.