Throughout Paris there seems to still be lots of locally owned businesses which is nice to see. However when you’re looking for somewhere to extract electricity to charge your phone, a Seattle-based coffee franchise comes in handy. In central London you could probably find at least five Starbucks within ten minutes of walking, on top of the countless branches of Costa Coffee, Cafe Nero, etc. Eventually I found one. Tax and globalisation issues aside, Starbucks are useful when travelling as a source of free WiFi, free electricity as well as a half-decent, reasonably priced coffee. This is the third occasion that I have attempted to order a drink in French. As with the other occasions I’ve been spoken back to in English. Perhaps the possible giveaway that I’m not local is the mumbling and the proliferation of “erm.” I think I may have said “por favor” once too! Perhaps I need to brush up on the accent.
While the 16C temperature is ideal for walking around in, a foggy Paris morning isn’t great for seeing the sights. As in literally viewing them. You can barely see the top of the Eiffel Tower from the bottom. This still doesn’t seem to put some people forking out an arm an a leg to go up it to view absolutely nothing! Thankfully the depth of the river seems to have slightly dropped today, apparent by the sight of tops of signs that were completely submerged yesterday.
In the afternoon I signed up for the Left Bank Walking Tour. I didn’t catch the guide’s name but he’s a doppelganger for the actor, Jason Biggs. I didn’t find it the most fascinating tour ever but to be fair to Jason he probably didn’t have the most interesting sights to talk about. A few people sneaked off mid-tour which was a bit out of order. One thing I did learn from this tour is that Paris bus stops have USB chargers built into them although it sounds like an open invitation to muggers to me.
After the tour has finished I had a walk around to catch the stuff I hadn’t seen so far. This involved walking from the Pompidou Centre to the stunning Hotel des Invalides via the L’Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. On my tours map this doesn’t look that far but the trek itself seemed to the contrary. Later checking Google Maps it gave a distance of 6.8km but I must have taken the elongated scenic route. Walking down the Champs Elysse was slightly weird. Here you will find some of the grandest retail stores in the world, surrounded by street traders selling plastic towers and selfie sticks (or help your selfie sticks as they are known to thieves).
Euro 2016 fever has yet to reach Paris. You’d barely notice it’s due to start here in five days time. The only evidence of it are a few banners on lampposts near the Arc. The only person who has mentioned football so far has been Jason Biggs. The people of Paris seem more interested in smoking their heads off outside cafes than football. Smoking has somewhat gone out of fashion back home on the grounds of it costing a small fortune and being really bad for you but this seems to be far from the case in the French capital.