It was the most hilarious sensation, being there right in front of the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful sunny day, in a lovely park that was absolutely PACKED with people. It was also at that moment that I realised that being in Paris is exactly like being in a giant postcard. Everything is exactly as you expect it to be, nothing more, nothing less. And you have seen it all before. So on the one hand its all very satisfying to finally go to all these places you have been wanting to go for a really long time, but on the other hand there are no surprises. None at all.
The entertainment factor of the Parc du Champs de Mars, however, was a lot better than expected. First, the sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower thing. I’m not gonna deny it wasn’t novel and exciting. Second, the sitting around in a park with your bottles of wine and fancy French cheeses, and the drinking bit being all legal and legit, and the wine and cheese being so cheap compared to what you would pay at home.
Third, there’s all the extreme PDA. Everywhere we looked there were couples just all over each other, to the point where it was actually really funny.
Fourth, the wine hecklers. All afternoon, like many places all over Paris, there were Indian men coming up to us trying to sell bottles of wine (and cigarettes). At tourist destinations with huge queues it is usually bottled water and at some parks it is bottles of beer (I’m not sure how they decide, but apparently this one is a wine park).
After we ran out of wine, we signalled one over to see how much he was offering, to see if it was worth it to not have to move to get another bottle. After he said €20, we laughed and politely declined. However, we had made the crucial error of displaying the slightest bit of interest, and he wasn’t going to give up easy. He then lead in with “well how much did you pay for that bottle?” and I guess he was expecting us to be a bit more classy, as his heart visibly sank when we told him it was €2. Still not keen though, to the great entertainment of all the couples around us I haggled him down to €6 for his bottle and it was satisfaction all round. However, as soon as the sun went down, suddenly out of nowhere (as if they had been hiding behind the trees) there were at least 30 more men wandering around trying to sell all kind of things. And by gosh did they get aggressive! There was some serious desperation among them, at one point they were trying to distract me by offering a free bottle of wine while their mates circled round eyeing up our handbags. Needless to say the magic was somewhat ruined after that. We could definitely understand how it was very much an illegal activity (we actually saw one guy getting arrested earlier on), and after the near robbery (lucky we were on our toes after the whole van incident) it definitely ruined that magic a bit.
Fifth, and most clichéd of all was when the Tower lit up. It really was quite magical, though I most definitely cringed when everyone started clapping. It reminded me of when people clap when a plane lands, a massive pet peeve of mine. If you don’t clap the waiter when he delivers you a coffee, don’t clap the pilot for just doing his job either!
We had intended to go up it the tower while we were there, but after a few wines and with the size of the lines in full view, the beginning of the process of putting it off every day for almost two weeks began!