Last night, Saturday night, the weather was delicious. At 9pm, the warm breeze caressed sleeveless arms and everyone, Parisian and tourist alike, was smiling. The streets were full of walkers, the bistros and restaurants spilled out onto the sidewalks and streets. It was one of those nights when I didn’t want to go home. I just wanted to walk this gorgeous city and feel the warmth, hear the happy chatter and soak in what I think of as the essence of Paris: the sidewalk culture.
Today is Sunday and oh how things change. It is rainy, cool and grey. Soggy joggers are running along the Quai des Grands Augustins looking a bit like soaked puppy dogs. Bikers are riding by with yellow, blue and white rain jackets unfolding like sails behind them. There are no cars, only taxis and buses. Today is Car Free day in Paris! Anne Hidalgo, our mayor, has been trying to bring attention to the pollution. She hopes to have part of the central city completely car free by 2018. Fortunately, Paris has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. So today, only taxis, public transport and electric vehicles will be allowed to run. Normally, it would be a wonderful day to roam the city, walk in the roads and enjoy everything that Paris has to offer. We will see who braves the rain.
One group of people out and about enjoying the streets are the skateboarders. Hoards of them in groups of thirties and forties are passing under my window. They are singing to the skies as loudly as they can so happy are they to have the roads to themselves, well practically. Some are dressed as if it is already Halloween. A bride zooms by, then King Kong followed by two characters from Toy Story with huge smiles on their faces and arms up in the air. Who cares about the rain they seem to be saying. Look Ma, no cars!!!!