Standing in front of Notre Dame holding my book
To celebrate turning the big 4-0, a good friend of mine (buddies since kindergarten) decided to head to Paris and bring in this new stage of our lives with a bang. And let me tell you, it was a BLAST. Paris is absolutely beautiful, and as I walked the cobbled stoned streets I found myself becoming lost in the whole French experience. I couldn't get enough of it. I wanted to eat every French pastry and taste every type of bread. I wanted to see it all. I'd never been overseas before, but my experience in Paris makes me want to see more of this amazing world we live on.
Since I knew I was headed to Paris, I decided to try an experiment (it's really rather early in the experiment so I have no idea if it will be successful or an utter failure just yet). I decided to take four of my books to Paris with me and leave them in random places. I included a note inside each book, letting the finder of the book know they can take the book, read it, come to my blog and leave a comment, and then pass the book onto someone else.
The Catacombs. Over 60 million skeletons are kept in this tomb. Incredible to look at.
It was slightly tricky to leave books around Paris. You'd think it would be easy, but not so. The first big problem is that is rained every single day that I was there. I couldn't leave a book outside because with the on and off again showers the book could be ruined in a matter of seconds. So I had to be crafty and clever. One of the first places I decided to leave a book was in a book/gift shop just across the alley of The Catacombs. When you exit The Catacombs, the gift shop is right there. And because of the creepiness of the store, of course we had to go inside. The girl that worked in the odd, skeleton decorated shop was friendly and helpful. When she turned to go help another customer, I placed a book on the counter and then took off (I'm a chicken like that). She didn't chase me down to return it, so I assume she still has it.
This is one of Paris' above ground cemeteries. Creepy yet beautiful all at once.
Another place I left a copy was on a little cement bench in front of Notre Dame (See above picture). The place was crowed with people, and despite the threat of rain I decided to go for it and set the book on the bench before heading inside the massive, beautiful, and awe inducing cathedral. Let me tell you, Notre Dame is AMAZING. If you go to Paris, it is a must see for certain. And as beautiful as the inside was, I think I most loved the outside display of the flying buttresses and gargoyles--fantastic. Notre Dame is one of my favorite sites in Paris. When we stepped outside after spending a great deal of time looking at the stained glass windows and side areas, we checked the bench where I'd left the book and it was gone. Sweet. (See that colorful bag--it's full of books. Heavy books. I should've been smarter. It's not fun carrying a bag of books around Paris for a great length of time).
Paris McDonald's are different. Try a McBaguette if you get a chance. Kinda cool.
Okay, I know what you're thinking...you went to Paris and you ATE at McDonalds???? Are you nuts??? Now, let me just say in my defense, I was hungry. Many days we would get up, get ready for the day, take off and go site seeing and then look down at our watches and realize it was 4pm and we hadn't ate a thing. This was one of those days. We happened to be in an area where there were very few cafes or anything other apartment buildings (we got lost). It was more residential than commercial. We were hungry. We were soaking wet from a day of walking in a rain so cold you wished you had gloves. No joke.
So when we saw the golden arches, we headed inside. After eating at the very busy fast food chain, I left a book on the seat.
The last place I left a copy of WANTED: Dead or Undead as on a subway train. At first I thought no problem, just leave it and go. The reason I thought this was because for once the train was rather empty. Then two stops before we were to get off, a slew of people entered and crowed around. I worried. I began to wonder if this was a good idea or not. Let me explain...most people we came across in Paris were friendly and wonderful. If you dropped something, they chased you down and handed it to you. I didn't want anyone risking death by jumping off a train to give me back the book that I was trying to get rid of :)
Our hotel was located near this metro stop, Place D'Italie. This was our stop.
So when the train came to our stop, my friend and I stood, grabbed our bags, and hoped off the train without looking back. But from a distance we heard a woman shouting, "Madame, your book! Madame, your book!" I didn't turn around, but my friend did and saw a woman standing near the train door holding my book. What a nice person. We were rude though and just kept on walking--Americans. I wanted to leave the book. In my mind, this kind woman has taken the book home and is reading it as I write this (ideal, huh?). What will happen to these books...I have no idea. My hope is that people will read them. That is the hope of any author. The reality...well, these books could very well be inside a Paris garbage can, but I refuse to let me mind linger there.
Versailles. I LOVED this place. Amazing. My favorite. A must see.
A couple of quick things about Paris that I loved (besides the wonderful sights) was that on the metro (and we rode a lot of metro--LOTS) was that people were reading. Really reading. With REAL books and not on electronic devices (of course, the metro is a scary place and you could very well be killed for you Kindle, so paperback books is a smart way to go). Many people read paperback books. It was a wonderful thing to see. Also, there were little book stores EVERYWHERE. There was one street (in our moment of being lost) in which we saw three book stores all kiddy-corner of one another. They also have a lot of open markets in Paris where used books are spread out on tables to rummage through. Parisians obviously love their books.
A small section of the Versailles gardens--so beautiful.
As a side note, I wanted to share a few pics of Versailles. This place was incredible. Look at the garden--this is only one section of this massive, beautiful garden. There is so much more. The palace was breathtaking. The entire time I walked among the rooms, down the halls, and then ventured into the gardens to see the fountains and sculptures, I kept thinking, "I want to write a book about queens and kings." The desire was HUGE. Here's the problem...I know nothing about kings and queens and that era of history other than what I've seen on HBO. So we will see. I still think I want to give it a try, but I know I have a lot of research ahead of me should I take a project like that on. But Versailles had that effect on me :) Want to know more about Versailles? Click HERE
I had an amazing time in Paris. It will forever be a powerful memory, to be treasured. Here is a slide show for you of some other pictures from my time in Paris. Enjoy.