Xi Men turned his head to look at Xiao You sitting next to him on the grass at Champs de Mars. (*Champ de Mars is a public park in front/at the back of Eiffel Tower – depending on which angle you look at/from)
Sensing that Xi Men is looking at her, Xiao You turned her head and looked at him.
“Hmmm?” she asked.
He smiled and he shook. “You finally get your sunset,”
She smiled, “Yeah. After a whole week. I didn’t even realize the sky is blue today,” she straightened her head and looked straight at the Eiffel Tower in front of them, with the beautiful colors of sunset already appeared behind it.
“I didn’t know where you exactly want to see the sunset… I was thinking of another boat ride. Or Arc de Triomphe, or Musée du Louvre… or this. But I guess nothing beats the icon of Paris because you love this tower, so I decided to bring you here,” he said. “I hope it is good enough for you,”
“This is exactly what I want. Sunset in Paris, overseeing Eiffel Tower,” she said.
He smiled. “I am happy to hear that,” he said. “I saw the blue sky in Versailles. I was slightly worried it might be overcast here in Paris city,”
“Well, it turned out great,” she smiled.
She lifted the smartphone in her hand up and takes photos of the sunset.
He sits there in silence as he looked at her taking photos, properly aligning and adjusting to take a photo of Eiffel Tower against the background of colorful sunset.
He likes it that she enjoys it.
He likes it that she is happy.
“So… when are you going back to work?” Xiao You asked, without looking at him.
“On the 11th,” Xi Men said.
“11th?” Xiao You asked. “The next day after you land in Taipei?”
“Yeah,” Xi Men said.
“Immediately after the trip? Wow,”
“That ‘wow’ of yours made me curious,” he said.
“Are you sure you have enough time to rest before going back to work?” she asked.
“I can rest on the day that I land,” he said.
“You didn’t factor in jetlag?” she asked, looking at him. “Oh wait,” she said. “You traveled so much, you’ve probably gotten use to jetlags and you know how long it will take you to get back on the ‘right time’,”
Xi Men then chuckled. “You’ve made a good point there. But it is not up to that extent. There are times where the jetlag I suffered wasn’t serious, but there is once I took a week to get rid of it,”
“Ah? A week? That sounds very serious,”
“Yeah. But I won’t know. I gotta get back to Taipei and then I will know if my jetlag is serious or not,” he said.
“Hmmm… okay,” she said.
“And you? When are you going back to work?” he asked.
“2 days after I land,” she said. “So I have one extra day to recover,”
“That sounds good,”
“And I am not looking forward to go back to work,” she said.
He laughed. “You make it sound like you hate your job,”
She smiled. “I don’t hate my job. I just dread the feeling of going back to work because my vacation has ended,” she said. “I am not like you. It is your company and you are a workaholic. You need your dose of work. So you will want to go back to work as soon as possible,”
After he is done with laughing, he exhaled a deep breath.
Xiao You turned to look at him when she heard the deep breath, “That sounds like a sigh to me,”
He smirked, and then he looked at her. “I am not the same as the other F3,”
“Hmm? Why do you say so?”
“They have a family to go back to at the end of the day,” he said. “I don’t,”
“You have your mother at home,”
“I know. But I am sure you know it feels different,” he smiled.
She smiled first, taking a brief pause, “I know,”
He smirked. “With family, it gives them reasons to go back home. I don’t. So… I’ll just work,”
“Or pub to hook with girls,”
He smiled. “That’s not an everyday thing,”
She smiled. “I know,” she said. “But I hope you remember your work almost killed you,”
He laughed. “It is just a stomach ulcer. It just got me hospitalized. It won’t kill me,”
“If left untreated, it will,” she said. “Don’t underestimate that,”
He smirked, “Point being, I am alive and well here,”
“You are fortunate, that is why,”
He just smiled.
“Without a family or commitment, I believe you need to find balance in life too,” Xiao You said. “I guess you need to know when to take a break,”
He smiled, and then he turned to look at her. “Thank you,”
“You are thanking me? For?” she asked.
“Err… didn’t you suggest this trip at the first place?” she asked.
He smiled, and then he straightened his head. “Yes. I did. For one week,” he said. “But it also happens at the right time… it made me realized I needed a break too,”
“It still doesn’t explain why you are thanking me…”
He turned to look at her. “Well, if you had rejected this… then it means I will be working right now in Taipei, and never get to take a break,”
She laughed. “I guess I need to thank you for making this happen, then?”
“I am only paying,”
“And suggesting,” she said.
“And thank you for the planning,” he smiled.
“You are welcome,” she smiled.
They smiled at each other, and then soon turned their heads to look at the sunset.
“Where should we go for dinner later?” Xiao You asked after a brief silence.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“No, not yet. I am just asking you, if you have any idea… or any place you would love to go for dinner,” she said.
“I don’t have any,”
“Oh…” she said. “Hmmm… I wonder where we should go for dinner later,”
He tilted his head. “What do you think about Latin Quarter?”
“Latin Quarter for dinner?” she asked. “Again?”
He nodded. “To be honest, I like Latin Quarter. So many restaurants to choose from,” he said. “And not to mention, the varieties in the menu,”
She smirked. “If you want to go to Latin Quarter, then, let’s go to Latin Quarter,”
“Okay,” he smiled wider.
“Oh. Wanna take a photo together?” she asked, lifting her smartphone up.
“Sure, should we turn around so that the sunset appears behind us?” he asked. “Along with the Eiffel Tower?”
“Yup, let’s do that,” she said.
Both of them turned around so that their backs are facing the Eiffel Tower.
As Xiao You is about to lift her phone up, her eyes diverted to the tall building that has always been in Paris, but she had never paid attention to.
“Alright, we can take picture now,” Xi Men said, as he turned to look at Xiao You, and then immediately realized she is looking at something somewhere far.
She turned to him as he speaks, but at the same time he turned his gaze to look at the skyscraper that Xiao You was looking at just now.
It is pretty obvious she is looking at the skyscraper since that is the only tall building in the view of her head’s angle.
“We can take pictures now…” Xiao You said.
Xi Men turned to look at Xiao You, and then he looked at the skyscraper, “You are looking at the skyscraper?” he asked, returning his gaze to Xiao You.
“Oh. Yes. Tour Montparnasse. I have just remembered I wrote down that tower in the list of places but it is not one of the must-sees thus I didn’t plan it in the itinerary,”
“You mean we can actually visit that building?” he asked.
“Yes. It is an office building, but it has an observatory deck that is open for public,”
“Well, since we have time after dinner, we can go over if you want to,” Xi Men said.
“Really?” she asked.
“Of course. We’ll go anywhere you want to go,” he smiled.
She smiled. “Ah, I need to see its operating hours,” she said, opening the handbag to retrieve the folded printed paper.
He looked at her as she looked at the paper and starts scanning.
“Ah, it is open until 11pm. We can go,” she smiled.
He smiled upon seeing her smile. “Alright, then we’ll go after dinner,”
“Okay,” she said.
“So… let’s take photo of the Eiffel Tower and sunset before it is gone,” he said.
“Oh, sure,” she said, taking her phone up.
With Eiffel Tower and perfect sunset behind him, they leaned next to each other and take a photo together.
“Ah… nice,” Xiao You said, looking at the picture she had just taken on her smartphone.
Xi Men looked at the picture in her hand. “Nice…” he said “Can we take another one?” he looked at her.
She finds the request odd but she has no problems with taking another photo. “Okay,” she said, raising her smartphone up.
After finding the right angle of both of them and making sure Eiffel Tower and the sunset is in the frame…
“Ready, one… two…” Xiao You said.
Xi Men turned and kissed her on her cheek.
“Do you notice the simple design of Tour Montparnasse?” Xiao You asked, and then turned to look at Xi Men who is walking next to her, as both of them walked towards the tower after exiting from the subway station.
“Yes. Quite modern, I should say,”
“It is built in early 1970s. The tower sadly faces criticism for its out of place architecture,” she said.
Xi Men lifted his head up and looked at the tower. “Well it did look 1970s to me,”
“It is also considered as one of the ugliest building in the world,”
“Huh? Really?” he asked. “It did look simple and plain but… in my opinion… it didn’t look too bad actually…”
“Maybe it is in terms of Paris’ criteria or some standards but I don’t know. That’s what I read from my research. Anyway, I am not interested with the architecture of the tower. I am only interested with the view I am about to see from the top,” she smiled. “It is 360 degrees view of Paris!”
“Oh, before I forget. They don’t take Museum Pass here,” Xiao You said.
“Alright,” he said. “Cash it is,”
“I hope the queue is not too long,” he said.
“I hope so too,” she replied.
“But I better prepare to queue for 2 hours though…” he exhaled a deep breath.
She smiled, as her hand is holding his arm.
They reached the skyscraper, and then headed to the ticketing counter at the ground floor.
There is NO queue.
There are only two visitors at the ticketing counter purchasing the tickets.
Xi Men and Xiao You exchanged glances.
“It is so rare to see there is nobody and no queue…” Xi Men mumbled.
“Yes, it is just weird,” Xiao You replied. “Or maybe, it is me. I am not used to it…”
“Hello,” the lady from the ticketing counter said at both Xi Men and Xiao You as they stood a few steps away from the ticketing counter.
Both of them had just realized the two visitors that were at the ticketing counter had already left to the lift, ready to go up to the observation deck.
“Okay, she said ‘hello’ means she speaks English,” Xi Men said, referring to the lady at the ticketing counter.
Xiao You smirked.
Xi Men then walked to the ticketing counter. “Two tickets to observatory deck,” he said, taking his wallet out.
“Do you have Paris Visite Pass?” she asked, and she also turned to look at Xiao You. “Do you?”
“Visite Pass?” Xi Men asked, and then he turned to look at Xiao You, before he turned to look at the lady at the ticketing counter. “Yes, we do,”
Xiao You nods in agreement.
“Can I see it?” she asked, extending her hand out.
He frowned as to why the lady wants to see their passes all of a sudden. He then fished his Visite Pass out from his jeans, and Xiao You also took her Visite Pass out from her handbag.
“Okay,” the lady said, without specifically checked the Visite Pass and then started punching in data into the computer.
Xi Men and Xiao You frowned at each other, wondering why this lady asked for the passes; and they took it out to pass to her but she never exactly looked at it.
“There’s 30% discount on your tickets with Visite Pass,” the lady happened to blurt. “So, sir. These are your tickets. The observatory deck is on the 56th floor,” she extends two adult tickets to Xi Men. “€14, please,”
“Oh,” Xi Men said, before he slowly smiled upon finding how funny the situation is.
Now they know why the lady asked to see it.
Xiao You chuckled.
Xi Men and Xiao You reached the observatory deck in 38 seconds in the Europe’s fastest lift.
Once they reached the observatory deck, they realized there aren’t much people in this place.
They are surprised at the small number of visitors, probably 20, but not unknown of, since this is not a must-see place.
They headed to the outdoor observatory which is called ‘the terrace’ in Tour Montparnasse.
Both of them quickly find their own spot to look at the view.
“Wow,” Xiao You said, while Xi Men’s gaze is glued to the view.
The view in front of them is stunningly beautiful at this night.
They could see the monuments from here as the buildings are all lit up.
“The view is nice here,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men smiled, “I agree,” he said, fancying the view outside. “Would you believe me if I tell you… this view is even nicer than from Eiffel Tower?”
She smiled. “Well, from the Eiffel Tower, the monuments are actually closer so you can get clearer picture of the monuments from Eiffel Tower but of course, since you are on the Eiffel Tower itself, you can’t get the Eiffel Tower in the picture, and over here, all of the monuments are a bit far… but you get a full view of Paris, and that includes the Eiffel Tower as well,”
Xi Men smiled. “I like it more here. Less crowded too,”
“There is no queue at the ticketing counter and no queue to take the lift,”
“Yes. Surprising,” he said. “And I would like to say that… some may not like this tower but… to me, I personally felt that this Tour Montparnasse exists for a good cause. You get to see the whole view of Paris without missing any monuments,”
Xiao You smiled as she looked at him. “You sound like you are impressed right here,”
“I am. I really am,” he smiled, looking at her too.
“That is nice to know. I didn’t plan to come here but since we have some time still, that is why I we came here… and I am glad to see you like it,” she said, turning her head to look at the view again.
“That is a good decision,” he smiled, straightening his head to look straight to the view. “This is the right place to end the trip,” he blurted subconsciously.
His smile fades upon realizing what he had said.
Her smile also fades.
‘End the trip.’
Xiao You pressed her lips together and then swallowed the lump in her throat.
“Yeah, I agree,” she said, breaking the silence. “This is the right place to end this trip,”
Xi Men lowered his head down, and then lifted his head up a few seconds later.
Xiao You looked at him as he slowly turned to look at her.
‘I will remember this look of him…’ she thought to herself.
She smiled lightly at him.
Seeing that she smiled, he smiled back at her.
He then slowly reached for her hand and gripped it. “It has been a marvelous week,”
She nodded. “It is,”
He looked at her, and sadness in him grew though a smile is on his face.
They have less than 24 hours left.
Or accurately, just 13 hours.
He then chuckled, trying to mask his unhappiness, “So… is this place… umm… the highest place in Paris?” Xi Men asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Why do you ask?”
“So that I can say we’ve been to the highest place in Paris. But… since you are not sure… then, perhaps…” he turned to face her, and then gently slides his hand around her waist, “…I can only say… this is one of the highest places in Paris… where…” he leaned closer to her, “…I kissed you,” and he kissed her on her lips.