It was a day of firsts in Paris.
With my Mom I explored Père Lachaise for the very first time.
This has been on my list for a few years but I have never managed to make it to this much loved cemetery.
After our lazy day yesterday we set out at the crack of noon to make our way over to the 20th arrondissement and happily spent two hours wending our way around the winding paths marvelling at the beauty of the tree lined allées, ornate family plots and tranquility of the cemetery.
We visited the graves of Edith Piaf and Chopin and Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. I was pleased to be able to pay my respects to Brillat de Savarin, French gastronome, whose words “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are” take me back to my days at cooking school.
After my Mom headed back to our flat I went off to accomplish another thing that has long been on my Paris to-do list.
I set out on a rented Velib bike (lucky number 15) to explore beautiful Paris.
For years and years I have vowed to rent one of the ubiquitous Parisian bikes to tour around the city but each time I have been here I have been too busy or, perhaps more accurately, too scared to hop on one of these city bikes, join the monstrous traffic and ride.
Today I overcame my fear.
Right near the flat is a Velib station and so I gathered my courage, punched in my credit card number and pulled out a bike. With more than a bit of trepidation I wheeled it down the street and hopped on, initially going the wrong way down a one way street. Yikes.
Soon enough I was pedalling down the Avenue de l’Opéra towards the Louvre, hair flying, legs pumping and heart pounding. To be honest, my heart was pounding not from the physical exertion of riding the bike but from the sheer pleasure and excitement to be riding amongst the cars and buses and other cyclists and garbage trucks and pedestrians. I rode along the Seine and witnessed a beautiful, stormy sky that made my heart stop for a moment. I felt so thankful to be here, right now, in Paris
For a time I followed a guy, also riding a Velib, who was listening to his iPod in one ear, talking on the phone in the other and smoking a cigarette, while weaving in and out of traffic. Something to aspire to.
I arrived back at the St. George Velib station somewhat out of breath, but very happy and still in one piece. A glass or two of rosé wine ensued. It was magical.
Tomorrow is a new day in Paris. Anything could happen.