Some days I wake up thinking of Paris and how it has changed me forever. Now you ask me why should such a place do that? Well recently I had a funeral for my hopes and dreams because my life circumstances have been pretty grim for a while. While this was going on, I remembered how as a child I longed to go to Paris. Even my dreams took me there and secretly I knew it would be something special.
Last year in a cool July I went to Paris on the Euro star and from the very moment that my feet touched the Paris pavement I felt a sensation that could be best described as euphoria. I did French at school and even though I wasn’t very good at it, I fell in love with the language. Just speak French to me and I melt. Put me in a railway or underground station full of French people and guess what I’m in heaven. Most people would be astounded that I could find romance in a crowd, well in Paris there’s not much choice. Even if you wanted to hold your loved one on the street corner, there is a world watching. No one seems to mind though, both Parisians and tourists love it!
As we ascended from the subway on the way to our charming boutique hotel I could feel an excitement arise in me, mostly because I had been in the same tree lined street on Google earth and I could recognise it. A street I came to know quite well with a lively local supermarket where the cashier smiled when I tried to speak French to him and the homeless find rest. A street where the pigeons waddle complacently and there is always time to look up at the trees and feel the sunshine.
I realise now that “dressing down” in Paris makes you either look like a tourist or a hobo. I loved the ladies in their finery walking their French poodles almost tripping over the pavements in high heeled shoes and the men in suits on their bicycles enjoying summer with all its frivolity. For the jaded and those who think Paris is over rated I say, just ride the underground and listen to the melodious chatter, watch lovers exchange a kiss, sit at pavement cafes and smell the fragrant perfume in the air. Eat pastries and quiches at the patisseries and you will forever dream of such delicacies and try to find recipes that match their excellence.
That’s only just the beginning of the excitement of Paris, I had also longed to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower where the champagne flows and lovers commit their lives to one another. As I rose in the elevator, there was a slight chill in the wind but I knew I had arrived at the top of my world where my dream had come true. I looked out over the expanse of a city that never sleeps and almost touched heaven. I found that even amongst the throngs of excited people from all nations this grand metal structure had some kind of magnetism, a magical endearment that makes me long to go back. It’s very presence followed me as we took a boat ride on the Seine. As the sun dipped under the horizon and the lights came on I could see “la tour eiffel” light the sky with its grandeur.
We really wanted to experience the vibrancy of the city and its people, so we took a bus to the most popular places and we found many Americans with us loving Paris as we did, sampling the coffee and tartines, buying trinkets just so that they could take Paris home, walking through the gothic marvel of Notre dame, posing at the Arc de triumph and showing the same thrill that I was feeling as though the rest of the world and all our troubles just did not exist. Maybe that’s why I want to return, so that I can block the world out with the magic of Paris.
On our last sad day, we went to Montmartre where music fills the air from the moment you arrive with the sound of an accordion in the subway and then a harp near Sacre Coeur. Artists hang out in this area, hoping to sketch our good looks, one even offered to sketch Pete with short hair. I could feel the tangible excitement of tourists jostling to savor every moment, while unscrupulous artists flattered them with overpriced scribbles. Too little time to drink it all in and we had to return to our hotel to get our luggage and wend our way back to the euro star station at Gare du Nord.
I closed my eyes and just listened to the chatter on the train and let the rhythm of the city blow me away……to return some day.