August 25, 2012
Paris. Romantic, big, beautiful Paris.
It makes me smile just being here, walking the streets, soaking in the sights, the architecture, the sounds, the accents.
We wander down to the nearby canal for dinner on our first night and are taken by the number of young people playing petanque and picnicking by the water. What a glorious atmosphere, so happy and inclusive.
Then the next morning we buy baguettes and croissants from the corner boulangerie to make lunch (by the third morning the woman in the shop is almost polite).
We can see the Sacre Coeur from our apartment balcony, from our bed even. So it is the first place we head on our first full day.
It’s as beautiful, and with as many steps, as we remember from 25 years ago, the view across the city stunning. Paris. Breathe it in. Only a slight stench of wee.
Then into the city.
Brilliant metro system, so easy.
We step out by the Seine, but still no sight of the tower. Must be hidden behind a building. Ah, there she is, revealing herself turn by turn.
A giant of engineering yet so delicate and elegant, it’s no wonder Le Tour Eiffel is one of the most photographed structures in the world. We add to the collection. Graham can’t stop.
Notre Dame, the Louvre (no matter it’s closed the day we visit), we climb the Arc de Triomphe. They are magical place names and majestic places. There are thousands of tourists here yet the streets do not seem crowded.
Who was the first to design these grand boulevards, leading from a grand arch to a grand column? The French? The Germans? Grand idea whoever it was. We stretch out as we walk the Champs Élysées, another iconic Paris address.
We complete another circle 25 years in the making and catch an English-language movie in a neighbourhood cinema. Last time it was Witches of Eastwick and Full Metal Jacket. This time we see Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley in search of a friend, or each other as it turns out, at the end of the world. A bit too schmaltzy and not even a happy ending.
A pilgrimage to Jim Morrison’s grave is on the agenda this time around and we also discover the resting places of Chopin, Bizet, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde in this massive city cemetery. We stop for lunch, munching our baguettes by another row of family crypts.
And we visit the tres modern Paris as well, with a metro ride to La Defense and the new Grand Arch, gleaming angles among the glass office blocks.
Our last night in Paris we indulge in a special treat. We had planned to be here for our wedding anniversary (27 years) but will celebrate early with a booking at the 58 Eiffel Tower restaurant, on the first stage.
It’s not the Michelin-listed Jules Verne we had read about but I don’t think we could have asked for a more perfect night.
Right near the window with views over the Seine and the Trocadero fountains, and beside a French couple (who have the absolute window seats) but who are delightful company and are also celebrating their wedding anniversary (their 8th).
The food and wine are delicious and we end our evening with a midnight stroll through the Pigalle district to the Moulin Rouge. Paris, the city of love, we love you.