It’s been raining all day as forecast. The city thrums with energy, people run around with their umbrellas open, students manage mostly without. A nice bus driver will wait for you a bit and even open the door to let in a wet passenger at a stop light; a not so nice one closes the doors in your face and drives off smiling gleefully. I’d say there are more nice ones in the transportation system than impolite.
I decided to take it in stages considering the weather. Ride a few stops, get out, look around, board another bus, repeat the process. Feeling more confident than two weeks ago, I figured I could take bus 21 via Rue de Rivoli, after I carefully studied its route online. Peeking outside into side streets, I was pretty sure I’d be able to discern Place Vendome and get out. Oi! The bus took a turn, went along several tiny winding streets and rather to my astonishment I found myself facing the familiar magnificent facade of Grande Opera! This amazing building never fails to boost up my spirits. Besides, since it was my very first independent walk around Paris, I felt confident I’d find my way back. So I descended, walked along Avenue de l’Opera, then back to Rue de Rivoli. Once I saw Le Louvre through a side street, I went straight to it, turned right and soon saw my destination, the column on Place Vendome. I actually have seen it many times, but now I wanted to study the various jewellery shops situated there, since I read that this is the place to see. Wow! The shop windows! The guards, the face control measures! No, I didn’t go inside – my aims were different, I just wanted to look.
Back to Rivoli, into Tuilleries Gardens which are situated right behind Le Louvre. The palace is huge as befits the main royal residence and now the world famous museum. The gardens are vast, with lots of statues, a large fountain with greedy fat ducks swimming in it, lovely trees and nicely laid flower beds.
From the gardens, I simply walked along the palace in the direction of Notre Dame enjoying the views, then found my favorite bus stop and took the bus back on Pont Neuf. In spite of the rainy weather, there are plenty of locals and tourists around. In my two weeks, I have seen maybe two women in business suits with jackets and skirts over opaque black tights. No bright colors, nothing fancy. Most women of all ages wear skinny or regular jeans and slacks or leggings. I like it that here, people and especially women can be any shape and size, nobody cares. Very rarely I catch myself thinking, those leggings on legs which should not be even showed to God… But then I see the smiles, the good natured willingness to help a visitor. Who cares what they are wearing; if it’s comfortable, let them. Nobody pays any attention to the way others look, if it feels ok to you it actually is OK.