The Seine Boats are Made for Not Walking

From the Pont de l'Alma
The view from the pont de l'Alma, towards the pont Alexandre III.

Cruel Shoes in 'Golden October' in Paris

eMail from Susan Beaupre, via the Internet

Dear Ric,

Paris:- Friday, 17. October 1997:- My first full day in Paris was Monday, 6. October, after spending the previous day in Barbizon, on an equally beautiful Sunday, and I was fortunate to experience 'Golden October.'

After taking the métro from Saint-Jacques to Trocadéro and walking from the Eiffel Tower across the Pont de l'Alma and up to place de la Concorde, Madeleine, and then shopping in the rue du Faubourg- Saint-Honoré, I desperately needed to sit down somewhere.

This was mostly because I had new leather ankle boots that were very fashionable, but not very sensible. Fashion, not function, is my motto.

It was such a beautiful day, I decided to take the tour on the Bateaux Mouches. When I was in Paris last February, the weather was beautiful for that time of year, but for some reason I never got around to the boats.

I arrived at the dock about 15 minutes before departure and the top deck of the boat was already quite full. I managed to find a seat, next to an American woman traveling with a French woman, who had married an American soldier during or after WWII, from what I overheard.

As the boat went along the French woman was telling the American woman all the things that had occurred during the war. So I had running commentary the whole time and two types of tours - sort of.

Because it was October, I had packed mostly turtlenecks, which were too warm and no sunblock, which I needed. But I 'survived' by purchasing new clothes in Paris, which is always fun when I come home and am able to say that's where I bought something. The weather for most of my trip felt like July or August.

Seeing the city and its landmarks from the Seine really gave me a sense of how walkable Paris is. The Samaritaine was very prominent and I had been told to have lunch there because of the view - which I did the next day.

I somehow managed to use up an entire roll of film and started another while on the boat. The views of some of the landmarks like Notre-Dame are stunning when seen from that angle.

It also inspired me to walk all along the Seine the next day - up one side and down the other. With all the wonderful food I ate in Paris, I still managed to lose almost five pounds because of all the walking I did in those - fashionable - painfully stylish - boots.

Susan

Susan Beaupre©1997

This City Was Made for Walking
Dear Susan,

Paris:- Saturday, 18. October 1997:- Even alert readers will not believe your letter arriving last night is a co-incidence - with the other letter in this issue from John McCulloch, just about on the same subject - but with 35 years' difference in viewpoints.

Hand on heart, I swear it is a true co-incidence. These are not allowed in fiction, but are common as 'cruel shoes' in real life.

Although John and I have been corresponding for a while about other subjects, it was only this week that metro postbox we pulled the 'bateaux mouches' memoir together, and I went down to the 'Vedettes du Pont Neuf' to find out about Emile. While I was doing this, John turned up the original negative for the postcard and sent it along as a huge file which nearly brought the Internet to its knees.

Your luck with the weather at the beginning of October can be offset by the bad luck of those who chose early July for their Paris visit. It must be 'El Nino's' fault; according to a report I saw on TV last night, France will probably be an extension of the Sahara by next summer.

To be properly dressed, in Paris, on a budget, you have to plan to be six months 'out of phase.' At discount shops look for summer gear in fall and winter, and winter stuff in spring and summer. But the planning for this can be thrown out the window if the seasons don't behave.

I know doing this can be pretty hard on those who come to Paris to shop and want to get the 'latest' fashions. You want to flaunt it back home - it's your reward for spending a lot of money on a jet ticket to get to the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré.

But you don't deserve 'cruel shoes.' In a city made for walking, these are a shame no matter how good they look. You can't spend your whole time here on 'bateaux mouches,' after all. Even as good as they are.

Regards, Ric
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