le 14 juillet (Bastille Day)

The first time I saw Paris was in July, 1963. I was alone.

While in London, I had signed on to an “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium”-style tour of the Continent. The company was Blue Cars. Three weeks. $69.

Paris was the last stop before the tour group would be heading back to England. But I had had enough of the un-air-conditioned bus in beastly hot weather, of getting up at the crack of dawn in order to have my luggage out by 7 a.m., of the too-often fleabag hotels, and of sharing rooms with strangers. So, I decided to separate from the tour, see Paris by myself, and make my own way back to London.

According to the address on an aerogram from my mother,* I stayed at the Hotel Moderne, Place de la Republique.

I have no memory of where or what I ate in Paris. Not surprising, since I wasn’t a “foodie” back then. A shame, really!

I did the usual tourist stuff. Here are a few photos I took with my trusty Brownie.

Paris - July 1963

Paris - July 1963
le soldat inconnu (The Unknown Soldier)

Paris - July 1963

I guess I should also mention that in 1963, the exchange rate was 10 francs to the dollar.

I have been back to Paris three times since then, twice in the mid-80’s with M and J and in 1999 with M. In 1985, we were in Paris on le 14 juillet. No surprise that it was quite the celebration — an air show during the day and — mais, bien sûr! — fireworks in the evening.

*I’m a pack rat. I save everything!

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