Paris, je t’aime

24 Mar

I love Paris.  It’s that simple.  I don’t have a fancy or witty way to begin describing Paris, or a funny little anecdote to get this post rolling.  I just love Paris.  It’s charming, beautiful, romantic, inspiring, modern, old-fashioned, trendy, classic, young, and old all rolled into one.  After spending a few days in Paris a few years back I developed an instant pull toward the city, and always thought it one of my favorites.  After this second visit to the city of lights, that pull transformed into a love affair.  I love Paris.  Simple.

While we only had a little over a day to explore all the city had to offer, we were up for the challenge.  Sarah, Claire, and I had all been to Paris before, and so we mapped out a good idea of what we wanted to cover over our short weekend.  We managed to make it to the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, the Notre Dame, and the Moulin Rouge throughout the day.  We witnessed an evening service in the Notre Dame, enjoyed one (or more) crepes in Monmarte while admiring the local artists’ work in the main square, devoured cones of the supposed best ice cream in all of Paris, and bought brie cheese at a tiny cheese shop to take back to Greece with us (yes, it smelled overwhelmingly awful and yes, we stank up our section of the plane).  By the day’s end, we were satisfied with our sight-seeing abilities, and could happily check everything off of our list.

The best parts of the trip were not necessarily the monumental activities.  Yes, seeing the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame was incredible, but what was perhaps even better (or least on par with…let’s not get ahead of ourselves here) was ducking into the Musee de l’Orangerie, behind the Louvre, and standing mere inches from original Monets in all their glory.  These paintings spanned the walls, stretching out over the entire rooms and garnering due appreciation for Monet’s craft.  We sat on the benches in the middle of the museum’s rooms and lost ourselves in the flowers and water lilies, then wandered down the halls to pay a nice visit to old friends Matisse and Cezanne.  I always remark how the Musee d’Orsay is my absolute favorite museum, but after seeing the wonderful exhibits presented at this little pocket of a museum, the Musee de l’Orangerie definitely gives the d’Orsay a run for its money.

Another “best” was the hotel.  This trip would not have been what it was without the hotel.  As a very (very) belated birthday present, Sarah’s brother scored us a room in the magnificent 5-star Marriot on the Champs Elysees.  Not only was the hotel decadent and gorgeous on all accounts, but they upgraded our room to one with a view of the famous street.  So if the spaciously fabulous room wasn’t enough, and the all-you-can-eat complimentary breakfast didn’t quite make us scream in disbelief, poking our heads out the window and seeing the Arc de Triomphe directly to our right did the trick.

And then there was the Eiffel Tower.  Ah, the Eiffel Tower.  Each time I stare doe-eyed at the Eiffel Tower, I can’t seem to comprehend that I am actually in Paris.  Is it real?  Is this a dream?  It’s there, right in front of me…obviously…but the sheer impressiveness of it, the shadow it casts over me as I stand small and meek below its form, the way it changes the entire look of the city, is just so unreal.  You can be walking pleasantly down a small street, minding your own business, when WHAM!  There it is!   Hanging over that building to your left!  Is that really it?  It that THE Eiffel Tower?  In the flesh (or, well, metal)?  I couldn’t believe that every time I saw the Eiffel Tower, I was actually staring at the famous Eiffel Tower.  Which is why I kept gazing at it with every turn of a corner.  I first saw it on the bus ride from the airport, unexpectedly when I happened to turn my head to look at something else.  My body physically jumped from my seat and I let out a little yelp of excitement.  Throughout the next 36 hours, every time I turned my neck and saw that awe-inspiring tower in the distance, I smiled and made a little sound.  Every time I crossed a street or exited a building or turned down a little alleyway it startled me into delight with it’s massive presence overlooking the city, and I couldn’t NOT be happy to just be in the same city as it.  I couldn’t help but to be jealous of all those Parisians I glimpsed running in the cold Paris air along the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in their sight along their daily route.  If I could run past the Eiffel Tower during my daily jog, I would run everyday.  Rain or shine or snow.  With a goofy smile slapped on my face.  I love the Eiffel Tower.

Other “bests”, and what made the trip so unforgettable, were the long dinners and conversations over great wine and great French cuisine, buying art from local artists on the street, and dancing the night away at a small Irish pub we happened upon.  And the French men weren’t too shabby, either.  The French are just blessed, I guess, and especially after spending too much time in Greece, land of hair and B.O., those French gave us a reason to forget that Paris was famous for that tower of theirs.

I could live in Paris, easy.  Sure, I don’t speak the language, and I hardly know anything about the culture.  But if I could spend the rest of my life gazing up at the Eiffel Tower, snacking on a crepe and breathing in the Parisian lifestyle surrounded by attractive men and adorable children riding carousels and bouncing along with balloons, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I just love Paris that much.  Besides, I’d pick up French eventually.  And I’m a writer, not a talker.  Last I checked, Hemingway and Fitzgerald had no problem writing their great American novels while nestled cozily in a little Parisian cafe.

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One Response to “Paris, je t’aime”

  1. Adam HABOU April 11, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    A ce point? Eh ben tu devrais commencer à améliorer ton français 😛
    Je t’y aiderais bien volontier 😉
    Try to understand it yourself, n’ tell me about 🙂

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