Paris is a dog’s city. They are everywhere. And not just the little frou-frou, fit-in-a-purse, powder puff variety you’d expect. There are lots of yorkies, dachshunds and papillons, to be sure, but there are also shepherds and labs, boxers and bulldogs, golden retrievers and all kinds of mutts. And the stories you’ve heard are all correct: they are allowed in restaurants and there are doggie droppings everywhere!
Joe and I have been quite diligent about exercising (to work off and not feel too guilty about all the delicious calories we’ve consumed) and even I have started to run. We’ve signed up for the Paris Marathon next April 15 – a heroic or foolish decision, depending on how you look at it. Our itinerary has us somewhere in Greece next April, but with the dirt-cheap intra-Europe fares on Ryanair and easyJet, we should be able to fly back to Paris for the race. It will be Joe’s third and my first marathon, if I manage to make it through the training. I must say that getting motivated to run in Paris is not a particularly difficult thing. As Joe likes to say, “it’s the best manmade landscape in the world.” The Eiffel Tower is in our backyard, so all our runs begin with a circuit of the expansive Champs de Mars park. From there, we can run as far as we want along the Seine, past the Quai Branly, the Pont de l’Alma and then onto and over the ornate Pont Alexandre III with its gilded statues and shiny sculptural details. Next up is the Place de la Concorde, former home base for the guillotine, and then the broad entry to the gorgeous Jardin des Tuileries that leads to the Louvre courtyard.
I believe I’ve mentioned before that Paris and her gardens have never been more beautiful. It is clear that France has spent piles of money to make its crown jewel sparkle: the gardens are manicured perfectly and are bursting with multi-colored flowers, the sand-blasted buildings and bridges are a creamy French vanilla and the work of the Propreté de Paris (the keep-Paris-clean squad whose trucks, barrels, aprons, garbage bags and bins are all kelly green) is evident everywhere. With so much to look at and so much beauty to observe, I can almost forget my sore feet and wheezing lungs. I do my best to avoid pavement and stay on sand or dirt walkways to lessen the shock of every step, but on occasion I find myself on cobblestones – high on charm but terrible for my feet. And at this time of year, the châtaigniers have dropped most of their chestnuts, so running on the garden paths can be a bit dodgy as well as I try to avoid the hard, brown gum balls and a twisted ankle. But these hazards aside, I’m not complaining. The views and the people-watching are priceless.
Yes, Paris can be a runner’s paradise. If only they could keep the merde off the sidewalks.