To Paris and Back Again

I took a much long awaited day off for the first time in over a year, so that I could whisk my wife away to Paris for her birthday. And when I say Paris … I mean Paris, TX πŸ˜‰

I’ve heard about the Eiffel Tower replica they have there sometime after we first moved to Texas. While my wife is spoiled and has been to the real Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, she has never seen the one with the big red cowboy hat. More recently, I found out they also have multicolored lights on it that light it up at night. It definitely sounded like something worth checking out!

We woke up early andΒ  meant to leave earlier than we did, but nothing rarely goes as planned when we try to plan out getting up early and getting out the door. Either the kids won’t get up, or we just fall flat on our faces and have no drive to get going. It didn’t help that the Post Office opened much later than I thought since I wanted to get 5 packages sent off in the mail before we left. And we still had to swing by my work so I could drop off some tape that my minions needed before we headed up to Paris.

With the excitement building, and the errands out of the way, we set off for Paris! I was excited to travel up a new road and to a new place that we haven’t been to yet in Texas. I was most excited with the thought of getting a picture of us by the, ‘Welcome to Paris’ sign, as I wanted to post a picture on Facebook that I had taken my wife to “Paris” for the day before we fully let out of the bag that it was only Paris, TX and not Paris, France ha ha.

My neighbor had said to me that Paris, TX was beautiful and that all of East Texas is beautiful, or so she had heard from a friend who lived there. Honestly, the scenery didn’t change much from here to there. Still mostly flat and lacking of anything sort of tall trees or forests that we are used to from back in Oregon. I had the GPS set to take us straight to the Eiffel Tower. The road we came in on took us around the outskirts of Paris, so we didn’t get to see any of the city or neighborhoods that Paris is comprised of yet.

The Eiffel Tower itself is pretty neat to look at. There was only one group of people there when we pulled up just before 11:30AM on a Thursday. Right next to the tower is the Red River Veterans Memorial, which to be honest, looks even better than the tower during the day. At night, while the memorial is still pretty cool to look at, the tower takes the cake with the vibrant light show from the many LED lights covering the tower.

We spent about 45 mins there taking photos and walking around. We headed out of there to find some lunch. We decided to find a local fan fare place to eat. Patrycja found a nice Italian place to stop off for lunch that wasn’t very far from the tower. The food there was good. It also immediately became clear there that far more of the population here have that good ol’ Texas accent that you don’t hear in the bigger cities like DFW where we live. The big cities in Texas attract people from all over the country. So much so, there really isn’t that much of a difference from how people sound like say in Portland, OR where we moved out from. Only a few people actually say, “y’all” in DFW. Even most of them do not sound Texan, or southern for that matter. But you could clearly hear it from the conversations that were being held around the restaurant. But the atmosphere and people were very nice.

After lunch, we decided to go find find the, “Welcome to Paris” sign to grab a few photos. It was just a few miles away from the tower. The drive over took us passed a nice looking fire station and passed one of the old cemeteries. We parked on what looked to be an old side road that hasn’t been used in some time. I’m not sure if we were actually supposed to park there. I knew we wouldn’t be long and hoped the local law enforcement wouldn’t hassle us over it. We jumped out and made a quick soggy trek up to the sign. I’m sure it is nicer if you come during the spring and the flowers are in bloom. Not so much in the winter time ha ha. But we got some good pictures and went along our way.

Next we headed out to find some of the local antique stores that we had read about online. Before coming out here (which was supposed to be a surprise, but my wife is so nosy and it is very challenging to keep secrets and surprises from her), I did some research on what other local attractions there were other than the tower. Besides the memorial right there next to the tower, there were a few old cemeteries that were supposed to be cool to visit. Otherwise, it is pretty much a spot for antique malls. Which, we really enjoy visiting anyways. A quick search with GPS revealed a spot where there were five antique shops within close proximity of each other. So off we went to go antiquing!

The GPS took us towards the center of Paris to what looked like old downtown Paris. It was kind of eerie coming into old downtown. A lot of the buildings looked really old, but they also looked very run down. A lot of the buildings were falling apart and had broken windows right and left. When you reach the center of downtown, there is a square with a water fountain right in the middle of the square. Surrounding the blocks around the square were the 5 antique stores, and various other stores. This section of downtown didn’t look to bad. There were even a few fancy upscale stores here and there. Someone put up some large blue and white trimmed letters that spelled out Paris on a wall where one of the old buildings apparently had burned down many years ago. There were some lights strung about across this opening near the sign. It was actually kind of cool looking, still yet creepy at the top and towards the back. It reminded me of something I would see playing Fallout 4. We took some pictures and headed off to our first antique store.

The first store we went in wasn’t awfully big. But we definitely found some goodies in there for a better than expected price. It looked like it was ran by a very old couple. I didn’t see any signs coming in showing they took credit or debit cards. Luckily we had a small amount of cash in our pockets between us that was just enough to cover out finds. The old lady at the front was very nice. There were also two old gentlemen that were in there gossiping about town stuff. It was kind of charming browsing through the store and listening to them all carrying on with the local gossip.

We then headed over to the second antique store on the square. I definitely found some goodies in there. I think I bought most of my finds of the day in that store. So much good stuff, it was hard to not just back the truck up and have them load up the truck with stuff. But I was able to keep it to about 4 items. I am still kicking myself in the butt for not picking up the Pfieffer Premium Beer sign. They wanted $45 for it. I was trying to keep my spending limit on items to $10 or less. When I looked up that sign later in the day, someone was trying to sell one like it for $150 online. I told myself I would go back and get it, but I never did. In this store, you could hear a group of gentlemen talking about one of the other stores and how their prices were so high and might put themselves out of business for it. The prices in the store we were in sure seemed fairly reasonable to us from browsing the local antique stores in DFW. The store they were talking about happened to be the second store we would visit after leaving this one.

The next store was pretty much mostly furniture. We went in and made a quick pass through the store. We stopped and took a photo of ourselves in one of the mirrors. The floor seemed pretty squishy for my fat ass and made me nervous walking by some of the china huts. On the way out, we spotted a sign that said no photos to be taken while in the store … Ooops! ha ha

The 4th store we figured out must have been the one the guys from the second store were talking about. I spotted what looked to be a Coca-Cola pin turned out to be a $250.00 hand mirror when turned over and price revealed. We also found out it was the store that someone in the reviews section smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. We toughed it out and made it through, even with the smell. The man running it had a very strong smoke smell about him as well.

We took a quick break and headed to the square in the middle to take some photos by the water fountain before visiting the last antique store. I got some good photos of Patrycja screaming because she was getting splashed with cold water from the fountain. I just love it when my wife screams for some reason. I guess I love it when she screams when I’m driving fast in the corners. I guess I just love a screamer πŸ˜‰

Now we hit the last antique store for the day. It was probably the nicest and most upscale. They had some very nice stuff in there, but nothing that we just had to take home. Well … The wife found an old door knob that had been turned into a photo holder that she had to have. It was similar to the ones that her coffee place has on their tables. So we did get one thing there.

Now we headed off to Starbucks to get some coffee. This is where the real shock kind of set in. The GPS was now taking us through some neighborhoods that looked very ran down. Slummy if you will. There were cars and trash everywhere in all of the yards. The houses were falling apart. People clearly lived in them though. It made me think of something you would see in a 3rd world country almost. I’m not sure if we were in a very bad part of town or what. But it was something to see for sure. We traveled for several neighborhoods that looked like the before we got out to a main highway headed towards Starbucks.

Starbucks was good. They always seem to be out of whatever it is that I want lately. This location was no excepting lol. We decided to hit up the only Goodwill in town to kill time waiting for it to get dark so that we could head back to the tower to catch the light show. But first … We had to take some silly selfies in the truck that we took about a year ago. They turned out good. But not as good as the first ones.

When I looked at the reviews for the Goodwill, there were not that many comments. Only one poor comment stated the bathrooms were horrible, the store was dirty and very disorganized. Looking at the photos on Google, it looked quite the opposite. So we took a gamble and headed that way. And it was good that we did. The store was clean and very organized. They didn’t have anything that we couldn’t live without though. There was some nice items. We never did check out the bathrooms lol.

Now we headed back to the tower. And we are sure glad we did. The tower is far more beautiful at night! The colors are more vivid in person than what we could catch on camera. And again, there was only one group of people that were there before us and left shortly after we got there. So both times we pretty much had it to ourselves. I’m hoping there are more people that visit it during the weekends, because it is clearly not that popular during the week days.

We finished up with photos and some videos before loading up to make the 2 hour trek back home. It had overall been a fun day. Seen some nice places, but strikingly some very not nice places. That is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in my travels throughout the US. We never did make it through any “nice” neighborhoods that we could see while we were there. Admittedly, we didn’t see all of Paris. There could have been nice places in the hiding. I’m sure we will come back up and visit another day. Mainly because I need to get back to buy that Pfieffer beer sign if they still have it πŸ™‚

Oh, the next day after we got back, my neighbor sent me a text asking how beautiful east Texas was. I broke the news to her that maybe Paris isn’t far enough in east Texas. And I told her about the town and the condition of some of the buildings and neighborhoods. She then informed me that she heard the same, but didn’t want to ruin my trip by telling me that before I left … Thanks neighbor πŸ˜›

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