Barefoot in Paris Ch. 02: A Long Walk

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Second full day in Paris. The previous days had been remarkable as Egle had her first public barefoot walk of her life. That day will forever be impressed in our memories, but for our second day in Paris I had a more difficult task planned for her.

The touristy bits for the day were more or less defined; the weather was still good despite the season, but with rain forecast for the following day. We would take advantage of the sunny spell to roam the city, making our way from the Hotel in the 19th arrondissement down to the river and towards the Jardin du Luxembourg. A normal day in the life of two tourists, with the exception that Egle would be barefoot the whole time.

It wasn’t an impromptu decision. We had discussed this in advance, and we both knew it wouldn’t be easy. She had had some long barefoot strolls in the forest, but never on city tarmac. What if she got hurt? What if she couldn’t take it anymore? Because the idea was for her to leave barefoot from the hotel, without taking any footwear. I liked the idea of her being truly barefoot, without the safety net of her shoes stored in my backpack. Of course there were risks but at least we were in a city. We could always get a cab back to the hotel.

The day started shortly after 10am. It was chilly outside, but not cold. And luckily Egle doesn’t suffer from cold feet. She was wearing what she would have worn for a usual day as a tourist. Comfortable active wear and a light rainproof jacket. But she was barefoot. I had made her say “I’m not going to wear any shoes today. Today I will be barefoot” because I liked the way she said it, and I enjoyed the power of words spoken out loud.

The walk down the hall of the hotel felt almost surreal. Seeing her in her bare feet on the carpet was already an unforgettable sight. Her feet are unusually long and slender, something you don’t notice when she’s wearing shoes, but that is unmissable once she’s on her bare feet. Her toes are especially long, not quite a Greek foot (her second toe is the same length as her big toe), but nonetheless very long. In my view, they are the most beautiful feet on Earth.

Once at the free spin exit she hesitated before stepping onto the pavement. She gave me a long look and then she stretched her right foot from the warm carpet to the cold concrete. The sliding door closed behind us.

What followed was one of the best city walks I’ve ever had. She was trying to act naturally, but I could see she was trying a little too hard to be genuine. She was talking more than usual, often saying silly things she wouldn’t have normally said. To put her more on the spot, I was looking down at her feet every time our eyes met, making sure to remind her at every occasion that she was walking barefoot in the city, in plain view for everyone to watch. The black leggings she was wearing made her feet stand out even more, her pale skin in stark contrast, sandwiched between the black fabric and the grey tarmac.

As her soles were progressively getting dirty (once again, not nearly as fast as I had imagined) I made her talk of her feet. I kept on asking to say out loud what the pavement felt like, and silly questions such as “where are you shoes?”. “back in the hotel room” she would reply. We were tracking the distance walked, and whenever we stopped I enjoyed hearing from her how long we had been walking for. “We’ve already walked 3km” she would say checking the app.

I made her take barefoot selfies roughly at every km. She would send the pictures to me on WhatsApp, leaving a brief message – 10s or so – as a vocal caption. “first barefoot km in Paris. We are still in the 19th arrondissement and walking south. My feet are still clean! Paris streets must be cleaner than they look!”. Something for me to listen, during those times when we had to stay apart for work.

As we reached the river, I had the idea of asking someone to take a picture of us. This is something we had not discussed before, and I could see how she blushed when I suddenly walked up to a couple strolling on the promenade asking in my broken French if they could take a picture of us. The woman kindly agreed, probably before realizing Egle was barefoot. I deeply enjoyed the curiosity bonus veren siteler of her partner, who I caught looking straight at Egle’s feet as we were posing for the picture. After a few shots I walked over to collect the camera, hoping she would make a comment, any comment, on Egle’s bare feet, but she didn’t.

“how did that make you feel?” I asked Egle as we picked up our stroll. She didn’t reply immediately. “it was embarrassing. It felt good”. I smiled at her answer, the significance of which would only be clear to me in the following months.

We arrived at the Jardin du Luxembourg around 11am. We had taken some detours, and she was almost ready to take her seventh selfie. He feet were now positively filthy, and I had at that point taken an equal amount of shots of her soles than of the Parisian landscape. It was also the point when walking started to become more of punishment than a simple task. The gravel of the Jardin didn’t help. I loved seeing her walk gingerly on that cruel surface, but it was clear that if we wanted to keep on exploring Paris we couldn’t have made our way back to the hotel on foot. We stopped for an early lunch in the gardens, enjoying a warm sunny spell. I made Egle sit on the bench with her feet on my lap, her soles well in view of anyone passing by.

“next holiday, you won’t bring any shoes with you” I said, uncapable of hiding my excitement at the idea of boarding a plane with her barefoot and not carrying any shoes. Was it even allowed? “it will save a lot of space in the luggage” she replied with a wink. That was Egle’s usual reaction. Never a complaint, never a hint of hesitation. She has this unusual way of displaying her submission with strength, something I can’t describe with words, but that takes me aback with beauty. There is something unmistakably submissive in the way she takes upon the challenges and obeys my orders, but she’s never passive. She always offer something in return, not just bleak obedience.

I looked at her soles, and saw they were quite battered. She’s not used to barefoot walking after all. After lunch we walked until it was time deneme bonusu veren siteler for selfie number 10, just as we reached Jardin de Plantes. At that point she was walking at half her usual speed, but I made her go and ask a group of young guys to take a picture of us. This time I had told her beforehand what my intention was, as I spotted the four friends loitering around one of the park’s benches. It obviously made no sense to ask specifically them to take a picture, but I wanted to see their reaction in seeing a barefoot girl walking up to them and asking for a picture. I wasn’t disappointed. First in French then in English when they understood our French was not good enough for a conversation, they asked why she was barefoot (to which I didn’t reply, not wanting to lie, and not sure how a “because I told her to leave her shoes in the hotel” would have sounded like). As one of them kindly agreed to her request and took a few shots of us using my camera, one of his friends pointed at his mobile, silently asking if he could take a picture. I was very pleased that he seemed to ask Egle and not me, although I ended up nodding at him, as Egle hadn’t seem to notice him. She did notice when a third guy extracted his mobile and started taking a video. She reacted with a laugh, lifting her left foot and pointing her blackened sole at the guy who was now enjoyed the scene from the screen of his iPhone. I was laughing too. Despite being quite an intense moment, their friendliness made the situation easier to manage, and I could see that Egle usual shyness seemed to have lessened if not completely vanished in that moment of light-hearted fun. Deep down I had been wishing for more embarrassment on her part, but I could understand how laughing was an excellent way to cope with what otherwise would have potentially turned into an awkward situation.

We completed the barefoot day with one last selfie and vocal message “I just showed my bare feet to a bunch of French teenagers. The soles are so black I’m afraid they will never get clean again! Time to go back to the hotel, hopefully in time for a pedicure!”

P.S. we didn’t walk all the way back, but elected to take a cab instead. For a moment I was afraid we might have troubles finding a taxi driver willing to accept a barefoot passenger, but more realistically, the guy who picked us up probably didn’t even notice she wasn’t wearing any shoes, and if he did, he didn’t care.

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