The city of goose bumps

Courtey of Joanne Gerstner

The people -- large and small -- are endlessly fascinating in Paris.

PARIS -- Maria Sharapova has it right: Paris is one of the best places on Earth to just observe the world around you.

Some of the things I have seen so far: a cute young couple from Prague getting engaged by the Eiffel Tower, and then tearfully calling their parents to share the happy news. Fifteen fully habit-clad nuns, deep in chanting prayer, at Notre Dame. Around the corner at Notre Dame, six breast-cancer survivors from Pittsburgh, wearing pink shirts and praying in front of the statue of St. Joseph at a side chapel as an act of thanksgiving for surviving. A group of preschoolers, all holding hands, singing a sweet song in French as they walk by the cathedral.

And the crazy fashions: women with heels higher than their skirts are long; the heady idea of wearing pink, green, orange and purple in one outfit; and the array of odd, pointy shoes on men and women alike.

It's the little things that strike you: hearing Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" blaring out of tiny speakers on a BMW motorcycle stopped at a light, with two men in tuxedos on board. Walking on the sidewalk, passing by people and hearing each clump speaking a different language.

But my favorite sight of all comes every night at 11, which is when I have been frequently getting off work: seeing the Eiffel Tower glitter and sparkle like it is alive for 90 seconds. I've gotten goose bumps every time, oohing and aahing with the other tourists who stop around the Place de la Concorde. We're from different parts of the world, but can share a singular moment and love it. That's Paris.