Surviving Paris: A Trip Into The Gutter


Welcome back for the 3rd installment of the “Surviving Paris” saga. If my disasterous adventures in Paris are new to you, click here for part 1 and here for part 2 to read how I narrowly escaped death twice in the City of Light. This time, even my Mom couldn’t save me from the perils of Paris.

We’d had a great time exploring, wandering and eating our way through France’s capital city and, after a big day, decided to hit up the Hard Rock Cafe on Boulevard Montmartre for some diner. Two luscious salads (a break from the baguettes we’d been scarfing) and a couple of Cokes later (a rest from all the wine we’d been consuming), Mom and I were out on the Boulevard trying to figure out a way back to our hotel.

After a couple minutes of deliberation, we decided that a taxi, after our long day of using the heel-toe express, was our best option. Alors, back into the Hard Rock and towards the hostesss I went to ask about calling a cab.

“There is a taxi stand right across the road, madame. That is the best way to get a taxi around here.”

“Excellent. Merci!” Mom and I steered ourselves in the direction the girl pointed and were happy to find that there was indeed a taxi stand just down the road from the restaurant.

Malheureusement, there was nary a taxi to be seen.

We waited. Cars zoomed past.

And waited. Horns honked. Not at us, unfortunately.

And we waited some more. Parisians raised their eyebrows as they passed us on the sidewalk.

In most cities, you wouldn’t think that hailing a cab on a Wednesday evening in October would be very difficult. It wasn’t raining, and  it wasn’t terribly cold (yet), but not one taxi pulled into the stand.

Now, any one who knows me knows that I’m a take-charge kind of girl. And I’m terribly, painfully, frustratingly impatient. At this point, Paris had exhausted my patience, and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

“Mom, I will hail us a cab,” I declared, distancing myself from the stand. “Don’t you worry!” Like I’m some sort of cab-hailing superhero, right?

So I set off down the road to what I had decided would be a more advantageous spot from which to snag a cab. It’s not that there weren’t any cabs on the street. Au contraire! There were a ton of cabs, but they were all filled with people whose cab catching skills were obviously superior to my own.

I raised my arm and waved. I motioned for cabs to come my way. I tried to make eye contact with passing cabbies. I promenaded slowly up and down the sidewalk, each passing cab representing a dashed hope in my now chilly and very frustrated little traveller’s heart. As my frustration mounted, so did Mom’s amusement with the whole situation. From her post at the taxi stand, she watched me walk back and forth, forwards and backwards along the edge of the sidewalk for probably 15 minutes before catastrophe struck.

Finally, a vacant taxi turned the corner onto the Boulevard and started to drive slowly in our direction. Naturally, I started to wave and walk backwards towards my Mom, never taking my eyes off of the long-awaited cab.

The cabbie looks up and sees me. My heart flutters. Finalement!

I launch into one final flurry of exaggerated waving. Mom applauds my success. The cab drives towards us.

I continue to walk backwards (not a good idea) towards Mom, the whole upper half of me positively shaking with the force of my—Oof!!!

And there I am, mesdames and messieurs, yours truly,  sprawled on my back in a Parisian gutter after having lost my balance and fallen un-elegantly and very ungracefully off the curb. It was the flurry of exaggerated waving that propelled me over the edge, I’ll bet.

“Sarah!”

“Unh…” I lay in the gutter, thinking about how ridiculous I must look with my arms and legs and hair all akimbo, my scarf covering half my face. I send up a silent grievance to the Travel Gods.

Why me? Why this? Always me! Always something!

“What are you doing down there!? How did you do that!?” I can hear the laughter threatening to break through her voice at any moment.

I shrug, as nonchalantly as I can manage. Then I start laughing too.

Just before I make a move to get up, (still laughing, by the way) a little old man on a bicycle pedals towards the edge the sidewalk and peers over onto the road, curious to see what Mom’s looking at. When he sees me, his caterpillar-like eyebrows shoot up so fast I fear they might lift right off of his wrinkly little forehead. He shakes his head at the ridiculous scene and pedals on.

Paris 3. Sarah 0. 

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3 thoughts on “Surviving Paris: A Trip Into The Gutter

  1. Sarah…hilarious. I feel your pain…I have been known to take a header into the gutter as well. And about taxi cabs…I have noticed that I have a lot of trouble hailing cabs too. San Francisco, Rome, Milano…they see me waving and just stare as they drive past. Anyway, I hope you were not hurt and I pray that the cab waited for you to pick yourself up from the gutter! Great piece. Toni

    • Thanks Toni. I seem to have these “piccoli disastri” as a friend once called them everywhere I go! The only thing that was hurt was my pride, and we were able to get a cab back to our hotel. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m always so delighted to get feedback. Also, saw your FB page and made sure to like it. I couldn’t figure out how to get my blog’s facebook page to like your blog’s facebook page…But I personally like it! 🙂

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