Welcome to Paris!
I had made plans to go down to Bordeaux and visit Marthe for the upcoming weekend but a phone call from home quickly changed those plans. My cousin reached out to inform me that her friend at the last minute pulled out of their Paris trip so I offered to take her friend’s place, cancelled my Bordeaux plans, and made the necessary arrangements.
A few days later, I find myself on a train to Paris. I arrive mid afternoon to check into the hotel and look up events happening that evening. I discover that there’s something going on at the Musée d’Orsay- Au-Delà Des Étoiles (Beyond the Stars)- but I feel so unmotivated to be out in the world that I ex it out, go out for dinner, and then turn in for the night.
The next morning, I wake up bright and early to welcome my cousin at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. I am so excited to see her and I am glad we get this moment to explore Paris together.
When we get back to the hotel I leave her there to settle in and go on a hunt for an American candy store. The walk is invigorating and on my way to Thanksgiving (the store), I come cross this neighborhood with brightly colored posts that feels very uplifting.
When I arrive at the store, I peruse the area and it takes me a minute to decide on what goodies I’d like to purchase. I grab all the Jelly Belly that is on display, walk up to the cash register then ask, “Do you have any more in stock?” The woman manning the register looks up at me, startled, and responds, “Well, how much more do you need?” To which I reply, “I need 26 packs total.”
By this time, another woman has come up to the counter and she asks me why I’m getting so much candy. I let her know that the candy is for my students and then we get into a conversation about my stay in France and the region where I’m posted and then she introduces herself to me as the store owner (she’s American by the way).
In addition to the Jelly Belly that is brought from the back, they ring up the bag of Reese’s miniature cups I had placed on the counter earlier. The store owner then says, “You know what, what you’re doing is great. Why don’t I do something for you?” In my head I’m like sure, why not? but before I can respond aloud she discounts out a sizeable percentage from the total. I am blown away. Not only am I tremendously moved by her generosity, I am also deeply humbled in receiving such an unexpected gift.
I thank her and before parting she helps me find a large box to gather the goods which will make it easier to maneuver around the Parisian streets. The reusable bags I had with me were just not going to cut it due to the volume, weight, and my lack of extra hands. She wishes me the best of luck as I leave and I step outside of Thanksgiving on cloud nine.
Always believe something wonderful is going to happen
When I return to the hotel, the sun has set and my cousin has woken up from her nap and is ready to head into town. Our first stop is Notre Dame where we admire the cathedral in its nighttime glory and unwittingly crash La Nuit Des Témoins.
We promptly head back out and make our way to the Latin Quarter where we have dinner and catch up with each other’s lives.
Following dinner, we make a stop at the Louvre. It’s closed at this time but I love seeing the pyramid at night.
Right in front of the Louvre is a stand with several petty cabs and my cousin suggests we take a ride on one. Now, I’m very hesitant because I’ve heard my sister’s story about her one experience riding on a petty cab in New York and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. With some coaxing from my cousin, I give in and we approach the stand where we meet Rafik. He is super personable and asks what we would like to see. My cousin shouts out, “The Eiffel Tower!” and off we go. But not before he insists we hold onto a blanket that he’d offered us which we had already turned down but eventually we agreed to hold on to just in case, according to him, it got too cold.
What do you think happens one minute into the ride? The blanket is snatched up by the wind, my cousin and I are yelling over the wind to get Rafik’s attention to stop (the cab) and he is busy giving us a poetic narration of the city’s landmarks and history. We eventually get his attention, he goes back to the site where the wind discarded the blanket, he recovers it, we convince him to place it the storage area, and then resume our night.
Paris at night by petty cab is glorious. Now that we don’t have to worry about the blanket, my cousin and I relax into the ride and we are able to enjoy an enlightening repartee with Rafik. He is a veritable encyclopedia. It is close to midnight when we arrive at the base of the Eiffel Tower and guess what I see directly in front of our parked petty cab? The back of another petty cab displaying under its carriage a sign with a beautiful message: Always believe something wonderful is going to happen.
Now this would be the perfect ending to the night but a few minutes later, as my cousin and I are crossing the Pont D’Iéna, we hear profuse screaming and cheering behind us. We turn around to see that the Eiffel Tower is sparkling. Yes, full on glittering. I was stunned. Tell me why I didn’t know that the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour on the hour at night. It was a beautiful sight to behold and my cousin and I walked back across the bridge just so we could see it up close.
Oh, what a beautiful night.