My first morning in Paris, I took the metro to the heart of the city and spent the day walking along the Seine and seeing what I could see. I ended up walking from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and then some), which is something of a long walk, if I recall correctly. I certainly wasn’t going from point A to point B (I would’ve missed trying my dubious French on painters selling their work along the river).
It has become quite the tradition to attach padlocks to bridges, railings, and fences around the world. The idea is that you and your honey fix a lock with your initials onto the bridge or wherever, throw the key into the water, and walk away from this touristy moment with your love forever sealed in the lock. Not everyone is pleased with this tradition, namely authorities and locals, who are not merely affronted by aesthetic worries: Shortly after I visited Paris, these “love locks” caused a collapse of a section of fencing on the Pont des Arts bridge. From what I saw of the sheer number and weight of those locks, I’m not surprised. As with many touristy lovers’ traditions, the locks have expanded to a kind of leaving-your-mark thing. I wrote on my extra padlock and locked mine on the bridge near Notre Dame, as a memorial of my trip. Here’s the best part, though: I threw the wrong key into the river! I’m not even kidding. I had 2 locks and 4 keys; now I’m down to… less. I had to laugh at myself though, for the great lesson in remembering to check first.
I walked around Notre Dame, past Shakespeare & Co. books. This was the first of several bookstores I had read about before I started traveling. As a total bookworm, I was utterly delighted to visit some of the most famous bookstores around Europe, and Shakespeare and Co. really lived up to its fame. It’s an English-language bookstore, with dozens of reading nooks tucked inside, littered with cushioned benches, vintage typewriters, and hundreds of thousands of books.
I spent some time in the Musee d’Orsay, mainly because I got in free as a student in the EU (hooray for study abroad!), as with all the museums in Paris. I got my Van Gogh fix here, because incredibly, the Louvre doesn’t contain any of Van Gogh’s paintings. Otherwise, the Musee d’Orsay is most memorable to me for its striking interior.
I walked along the Pont Alexandre III, merely because I was entranced by the statues gracing its sides. I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, and was amused to note that the amount of PDA drastically increased whenever the tiniest portion of the Eiffel Tower was in view.