Today, like every day in Paris, had many ups and downs. I feel like we have a love-hate relationship with this city. We’ll stumble upon a free concert, picnic in the park, or enjoy an incredible dining experience, but then the very next second something will happen that detracts from our enjoyment and the trip.
Today we got a late start–a very late start. The lack of AC has made it challenging to sleep well at night, so we didn’t get out of bed until very late today. We got ready and started making our way to the Arc de Triomph. We were helped by a nice employee at the train station who told us that they were running a deal on a weekend metro pass – unlimited metro rides for only 4 euros! We grabbed our passes and boarded the train, but things looked a little different. Everyone on the train was clearly a member of the LGBTQ community, and we realized that pride festivities were about to start! Then all of a sudden, the train conductor announced something in French and everyone left the train. Shelby and I had no idea what happened, but a nice couple told us that the train was not going to stop at the next 3 stations (the second of which was our stop). We hopped off the train and tried to find another way to get to the Arc, but it would have required multiple stops and metro lines, so we decided to make a quick stop at our Airbnb instead, and then head to Paris Pride.
Police had sectioned off the streets where the parade was to take place, and people were lining the sidewalks in anticipation for the parade. Shelby and I grabbed a beer to-go from a bar on the corner, and nabbed a spot on the sidewalk to watch the festivities. Soon the parade had made its way to our block, and it was incredible. There was music, dancing, floats, glitter, and everything you would want in Pride. There were also a ton of people–this thing was huge. Eventually I turned to Shelby and asked her when she’d like to jump in and start marching. I was somewhat joking when I asked–I never thought Shelby would march in a pride parade in a foreign country. But without missing a beat, Shelby turned to me and said, whenever you’d like. So we grabbed 2 more beers and jumped into the dancing mass of parade marchers in the street.
The parade was so much fun. We marched to a square and there was a concert waiting for everyone. We enjoyed the scene for a bit, and then got on the metro to head to the Arc. Fortunately, the metro was working properly and we made it. The Arc de Triomph was beautiful, but we didn’t stay for long.
We then ate dinner at a nearby restaurant that served escargots. It was our first time eating them, and they were delicious. Our steak on the other hand, was the worst food that we ate in paris. It was edible, but beyond well-done.
On our way back to the apartment, we headed through the metro only to be stopped by a woman who asked to see our tickets. We handed her our tickets, and she immediately asked how old we were. Shelby said 31, and I, thinking something was up, lied and said I was 26. The woman told us that the passes that we bought earlier in the day (the weekend passes that the train employee in the morning helped us with) were only good for people 25 and younger, and the fee for using the metro with the wrong pass was 35 euros per person. That didn’t sit well with me. I noticed that there were two other people like this woman who seemed to be stopping tourists (they were talking to American and Asian visitors). Thinking this might be a scam, I told the woman that we were not paying the fine, and a train employee bought those tickets for us. It was ridiculous, and we would not pay for something that a metro employee did. She didn’t like that, nor did she care. We went back and forth a bit, I asked to see her badge (she really hated that), and she eventually called over another cop and told us that we could pay the fine there or at the police station. So we paid 70 euros and boarded the train.
This story is exactly what I meant when I said in the beginning of this post that we have a love-hate relationship with Paris. One second we are marching in a pride parade, and the next we’re paying 70 euros to use the metro. This city is still incredible, but you will get screwed over if you’re not careful. Fortunately, we didn’t let this ruin our last night in Paris. We’re looking forward to Switzerland tomorrow, and we know to be careful for next time.