When I arrived in Paris Sunday morning, coming in by train at the Gare d'Austerlitz, my plan was to walk over toward the Marais neighborhood and have lunch in a café not that far from the Bastille. As I crossed the river, I had a nice view of the Bastille column, the monument that marks the spot where the old chateau/prison stood back before the French Revolution.
I thought I'd have an easy 20 minute walk, even pulling my suitcase-on-wheels behind me. The case wasn't that heavy and the weather was beautiful.
I walked across the Pont d'Austerlitz from the Left Bank to the Right Bank. Below, you'll see a photo of what greeted me: thousands of runners participating in a half-marathon race on a Sunday morning. It looked like it was going to be impossible to cross the street to get the the café. Finally I managed, though. I had to pick up my suitcase and carry it rather than pull it behind me. I watched as another man successfully make it across the street, weaving his way through the pack of runners. I did the same think, and I made it! Little did I know that I would have to cross the race course the same way a second time before I finally found a place where I could have lunch, after my first two choices closed turned out to be closed at lunch on a Sunday.
I'll put a positive spin on it: one of the things I like about Paris is that the city always surprises. It's never boring. You have to be resourceful — débrouillard, they say — to visit or live there. Watch what the local people do and follow their example.
Literally thousands of runners were jogging, sprinting, walking, or lumbering up the street, cutting me off from my planned destination.
From this Pont d'Austerlitz, I also had this nice view of Notre-Dame cathedral. It's always a striking sight.
I'm in North Carolina now. Because of jet lag, I got up at 3:30 a.m. today. I'll try to get back on schedule soon, as well as get out and take some photos locally.