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Report 1316: European Travel Back When - 1964

By Marian from New Jersey, Summer 1995

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Page 6 of 20: We'll Always Have Paris

I have begun to settle into a pattern of ambitious sightseeing during the day, followed by evenings spent walking all over Paris with J-L. The weekend is coming up and he is going home to his parents, somewhere in Normandy. If I am still in Paris after the weekend (which I probably will be), I will see him Monday evening.

One of the disadvantages of my little hotel is that it has no shower or bath facilities. I must use the public baths. The first time I head out with my soap and towel, I find out that the public baths are not open every day! But this weekend, Saturday, success! Shower, hair wash, everything. I head for the Jeu des Paumes: The collection of paintings by Van Gogh there is breathtaking! I have dinner alone at the Self-Service Latin Cluny, and am quite content to do so.

I mean to go to Versailles, today, Sunday, but the weather is too nasty. The young Frenchwoman I met the other night (and had tried to call yesterday), Marlène, calls my hotel and we wander around. She is staying at a little hotel on the Rue de la Harpe; she works as a “script girl.” We have lunch at “Le Pub” on the Champs Élysées; it’s run by Renault and you eat while sitting in little cars. We spend most of the day wandering around together, and have a light supper together. (We are speaking French, mind you!)

It’s Monday and I head for Versailles, leaving late in the morning. The gardens are amazing, and as I walk through the chateau I could easily imagine a queen and her court living there. The size and detail of the formal gardens are beyond anything I ever imagined. The bergerie, where Marie Antoinette played at being a shepherdess, is quaint. I walk miles and miles through the buildings and gardens.

And then this evening I walk miles and miles with J-L, all the way to Montmartre and back. I am having a lovely time, but I need to start making some plans to leave Paris. I have planned to head down to the south of France, to Nice. From there, I will go to Italy: Venice, then Florence, then Rome.

I’ve decided that I will take the 21:46 night train to Nice tomorrow. J-L has said he will take me to the station. Now all that is left is for me to buy the ticket. I sleep in and then make some inquiries about day-trips to the Loire Valley. But in the end, I decide not to go. I buy some more perfume and soap, come back and take a short nap, then go out to dinner with J-L and his friend.

So it is now Wednesday June 17 and I buy my ticket to Nice. Then I do some more sightseeing, finally getting to the Place de la Bastille. I return to the Louvre (where I look at the same paintings by Caravaggio and de la Tour as before), visit Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. This church is magnificent on its hill, and Montmartre is charming. J-L takes me to the station, where we have a happy-sad adieu. We exchange wishes for a happy future, and we both mean it.

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