I want to go to the Lafayette Galleries. It is a department store on the order of Macy’s, Herrods and Selfridges with fabulous decorations I am told. I look at the map. It doesn’t look too far really. We head out to the big street. In my mind there is our neighborhood with the tiny streets and cafes and when you come to the edge of it you are at St Paul’s Metro stop. I don’t care for the metro. Down a bazillion stairs, walk a mile to the subway, get on, get out, walk a bazillion miles and climb more stairs. I would rather just walk. If there was only a straight line to all the places I want to see. The Parisians like angles with triangle shaped buildings sitting in the middle of the street you are walking on so it splits into two, then that one splits and then that one.
There is no walking in a straight line so far. On the street of St Paul’s there is a boulangerie/patisserie/bakery called Paul’s, believe it or not, and there is always a line for their goodies. We get in it. There is bread and baguettes, cakes, tarts and Buche de Noel’s and delicious donut hole thingys! One young girl behind the counter speaks English, but I try my meager skills in French. We immediately made Paul’s a daily stop.
After the stop at Paul’s we walk on in our bear formation. And on…….. and on…….. The sidewalks got wider and wider and then when we could no longer see the sidewalks because of the masses we knew we were there. I couldn’t see anything, but the head of the person in front of me and to the side. Papa Bear stays close to me or I will never be found. Baby Bear is probably in the hinterland! Bumper to bumper. I could see the department store building, in the distance, but getting up close to it would be another story. Tiny steps, stop, tiny steps stop. Everyone in Paris must be here. Children are perched on the shoulders of their parents. There are windows and hundreds of people surrounding them. What is in the windows? I push in farther determined to see. There are three wooden stairs up, a viewing stand section and three stairs down, for the lucky and the smallest to stand on to see the window displays. Behind the platforms are throngs of people. The window has stuffed monkeys, polar bears, black bears, birds and other creatures swinging and dancing, and a clock. There are twelve windows, I discover, all with a different scene and a different clock.
I am ready to go inside. It is bumper to bumper inside too. The line, we are all scrunched in, is heading past the perfumes, no one drops out of line. It certainly smells good here! Suddenly there it is! The most beautiful and tallest tree in the middle of the store, well it seems like it is in the middle, with a domed glass ceiling above it. It is beautiful and we all fiddle for different angles to get a picture. I realize you can go up an escalator and get pictures at a different angle so up we go. Is anybody shopping? It’s too crowded to shop! It seems that everyone here is here to see the tree! We snap more pictures and then head for the cafe on the fourth floor.
I need to sit down. There is a walk through cafeteria and smaller eateries scattered on this floor to spread the customers out. It is hot in here!
So many people! I decide on sorbet and sit at a window table, looking out at the city. Suddenly the lights go on at the Eiffel Tower and Baby Bear notices this. It is breathtaking! How far are we from that? It doesn’t look that far, um hmmmm. I need to look at the items on this floor, it IS the Christmas decoration and ornament section and how can you walk past that and not look? It is sooooooo crowded, but we find an ornament or two and out the door we go to go to the Eiffel Tower which I am sure is just a mile or two up the road!
At the Eiffel Tower was a Christmas Market where we stopped to eat!