If I have any regrets on this trip it will probably be not allocating enough time to Paris. After an afternoon arrival thanks to my absurdly fast Eurostar train -- seriously the outside world looked like it went by in fast forward -- I took in the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, and then the Grand and Petit Palaces. Everywhere I turned there was something new and yet more attractions of history and art on my map pulled me just beyond where I was.
My big plan was to go to the Louvre tomorrow (my last day in Paris) but I just found it the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Only Tuesdays. Why? Ask the Louvre. Still I plan to be in the area anyway to take a good look at the Notre Dame Cathedral and a whole host of things I probably don't even know about yet.
I'm getting by okay on my crappy high school french, augmented with a little help from a translation app. I'm nowhere near conversational though. I do the verbal equivalent of pointing at the menu. Still when pushed some dark recesses of my memory conjures up the relevant word or phrase (or close enough to make things work). I am terrified of Italy though. My Italian is utterly non-existent. So that should be an adventure.
As for Paris itself. Well, beside all of its charms and beauties, it's basically dead quiet right now. I guess a large section of the french population takes August off. At least 1 in 5 restaurants I walked by today had signs in the windows saying they'd be back in September. A restaurant taking a month off--in Toronto that could never happen.
The tourist areas are still populated heavily of course, but just beyond them in the workaday (but still high end) neighbourhoods surrounding them it feels a little like a city only half-awake. I rather like it actually.
I just wish the Louvre was open on Tuesdays.