One of the first things about Paris that I learned is that the people here take their weekends seriously. Many stores have short hours on Saturdays, and you’re lucky to find anything but a pharmacy open on Sundays.
At first I put it down to a cultural difference; similar to how EU citizens actually get time off of work (like, whole weeks at a time), maybe they also regularly get weekdays off.
One thing I didn’t think about, however, was what these people do on their free days. The past couple of weekends, I found out.
After visiting a (busy busy) Centre Pompidou one Sunday, I went back to the Jardin du Luxembourg. Because it was a semi-cold, cloudy and blustery day I expected it to be quiet like when we had been there for class a couple of weeks prior. However, it was jam-packed full of people, and there was even a live band playing and singing!
Everywhere I looked there were people sitting, lounging, playing, etc.. In the pond with self-sailing mini boats, there was a virtual army of children waiting to push them back in. On the other side of the park, a couple dozen men played Pétanque whie a crowd twice as big watched.
The coolest thing about the park being so busy was that it felt like everybody in the city was there; there were other tourists (I got to practice my Spanish with a family when I took their picture for them!), people of all genders and ages, couples, groups, singles, etc. and all were there commingling and enjoying the day.
It was a wonderful afternoon, and it made me a little sad that we’d be leaving soon. At least I got ice cream!