Paris transportation system for idiots.

When in Paris, do as the Parisians do. First of all, if you are going to spend a week or more in the City of Love, get a transport pass, it’s much cheaper and more convenient than sorting out the various coins and paying each time you decide to use a bus or metro or RER trains. You need a photo of yourself and you’d better learn a few simple phrases to communicate your need to a clerk. Then just watch other passengers. For instance when you board a bus, you have to put your pass’s chip against a special entry point. So I bravely took bus #21 from Gay Lussac street to Le Louvre, having first ascertained that it goes via Luxembourg Garden, boulevard St. Michel, across the Seine River, past Chatelet, on to Rue Rivoli. I managed to get out right where I wanted and happily strolled along, staring at numerous souvenir stores and stalls, popping in and out of familiar H&M, C&A, Zara, Pimkie etc. I also took pictures of Le Louvre, which is really huge. I reached my destination, Galignani’s – it claims to be the very first English bookstore opened up at the beginning of the twentieth century. There I bought the latest Mary Higgins Clark book. A few steps away is W.H. Smith, another British bookstore. No, they didn’t have any Mary Stewart’s books; the lady clerk kindly informed me that her thrillers had been popular some 30 years ago. They could order for me, but I politely declined. So I went outside, pondered going into Tuilleries gardens, decided I didn’t have enough energy left, and began to look around for my bus #21 to get back. Et voila as the French would say! I discovered that it was one-way traffic there. I stared across the gardens, far far away. It stands to reason that the return route must be somewhere there. Did I mention that Le Louvre is huge? Well, the garden is even more so! I knew there was a public toilet somewhere in the garden, but I didn’t need it yet. And one can use the toilet at a nearby Mc Donald’s for a tiny fee. I debated for a few seconds, and then simply walked to the embankment. Once there, I whirled around, searching for one of my favorite landmarks – Conciergerie, the famous former prison, now the Palace of Justice. The building is lovely! I walked on, keeping it in my sight, crossed the river once it was past, and found my bus stop at once. There were plenty of people waiting, but no bus came for 20 minutes. So I decided to walk. Ok, Notre Dame on my left, check; St. Michel fountain and hence the boulevard in front of me, check; along the boulevard, BTW still no buses; Lux garden, check; a little whirling around, finding the sign to Gay Lussac, check. Straight on, and remember to stop by at a Patisserie to buy one of the last remaining sweet buns for our evening tea. Oof.

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