PARIS: RIVER BOATS

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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There may be no more touristy activity, but when someone hands you a pair of tickets for the bateaux mouches, you board the boat — preferably at sunset.

Your husband announces that he has tickets and you sort of roll your eyes and then inquire somewhat incredulously as to whether he is really serious because those boats are packed with tourists, so cliché and really sort of lame.  But, we are beach kids through and through and our coastal upbringing has taught us that when you receive an invitation for a boat ride, you accept.  So we dutifully board the boat, wearing sunglasses and sort of looking at the ground as all the cool Parisian teenagers loitering in the park by the dock are smoking cigarettes and looking at us.  You can practically hear them sneering.  You sit down and then are surrounded by a group of French high school students that look equally as embarrassed to be on board.  The boat sputters to a start and our little trip down the river begins.  The high schoolers start holding hands and you notice the girls perfectly messy French hair and how they are all smack dab in the middle of evolving into French Women and you take note of how much less self-possessed you were at 16.  Then you look at your husband and think about what he was like at 16 – boisterous, athletic, cool – and think about how funny it is that it is he who you are riding next to on this (admittedly very pleasant) tourist trap in Paris.  Then you settle in, realizing that you are now just part of the mass of tourists on board and out of the direct line of sight of the elegant Parisian Women and you watch as the sun falls and the light changes and the carousel goes around and around.  You float down the river past the places you visited in the preceding days – you notice the Musee D’Orsay and Notre Dame – and you watch the people on the bank picnicking and sipping wine and laughing.  Then you think of all the famous people who have picnicked on those banks and sipped wine and laughed and think to yourself how very lucky you are to have come through this city with your husband who was once the 16 year old in your PE class.  Evening arrives and the boat finds its way back to the dock.  You disembark and notice that the sneering teenagers in the park have disappeared and you find your way to a café nearby where you too can sit by the river and sip wine and laugh while watching those oh so touristy bateaux mooches pass by.

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