Paris day & night
Who am I to talk and what am I to say of
that hasn’t already been said (or sung), many times over and many times better?
Honestly, I’m not feigning humility here.
I don’t know Paris well at all.
I only know that a corner of my heart belongs to her.
After leaving Berlin, we were to fly to Paris. We’d been to France once before – sort of a flukey thing – only 3 or 4 days – and all of it in Paris. Though our trip this time would be focused in Provence and Burgundy, how could we possibly fly over the city we first saw (and fell in love with) one lovely April? She had just a bit more color then, and a bit more sparkle (but in all fairness, so did I.)
I’ll keep my words to a minimum here. (you doubt!) For this post, there will be mostly photos … with a few words, like herbs, tossed in for flavor…
Our key to the city…
We arrived to our tiny (teeny!) room in the same hotel we stayed our first visit.We had to shoe-horn ourselves in, but it was so well-situated we couldn’t pass it up. Directly across the street, the lovely little church Sainte Germaine de Auxerrois. Kitty-corner from us, the Louvre, and only a few blocks away, the river Seine.
I lost my pants in Berlin.
Though that may sound as though there’s an exciting story to follow (and don’t I wish there were), there isn’t.
I failed to re-pack them and when I called the hotel, they were gone. I’d packed light for this trip. (Lighter than I’ve ever packed before.) Priorities for me: everything for 3 weeks in one medium bag, with a little empty room to bring a few things back for family, and (naturally) my camera gear. The pants I brought were pretty new and pretty wonderful. My evening dress-up pants. I was pretty attached and pretty despondent when someone else decided she liked them too.
My Guinea Pig is a man you can always count on in a crisis. While my eyes were swelling with tears, he was already online, locating what would become my favorite place to shop for clothes, ever. If you ever get a chance, do meet agnes b.
We’re walkers, my husband and I. When we travel our feet take us just about everywhere we go. And Paris is a wonderful city to see on foot!
walking past a culinary school,
imagining for a moment, me in that window tenderly sprinkling cinnamon…
past fountains, statues, monuments – everywhere
When we humans travel, if we’re paying attention, we learn something of our travel companions and of ourselves too along the way.
When I travel, I marvel. I simply can’t help it.
My husband is a musician. He would understand this: I hear music in what I see.
To many, I know this would seem quite the ordinary scene…to me, it’s simply wonderful…
A skein of bikers on an ordinary Paris street…
An ordinary, run of the mill fire station…
and yet another place to eat exquisitely prepared food (yawn)…
…and churches and chapels…
we heard a choir practicing inside, their voices eddying around the stone walls. I wish I could tell you how beautiful…
iron-work gates and filigreed balconies…
…and the extraordinary gardens of the Tuileries –
After the death of her husband (Henry II) in 1559 (450 years ago!) Catherine de Medici moved to the Louvre Palace and commissioned a landscape architect to design the Tuileries Gardens. They’d be modeled after those of her native Florence. Since the 13th century the area set aside for the gardens had been occupied by workshops that made the curved roof tiles on the buildings that you still see today. (The garden’s name was derived from these tiles.)
The Louvre Museum on the northwest end, the Arc du Carrousel topped with horses on the southeast end, Catherine de Medicis gardens spanned acres. It was arranged in a very orderly way, with sections for lawns, flower beds, small clusters of trees and even the more practical kitchen gardens and vineyards.
No longer the Queen’s gardens. These are the people’s gardens now, and there’s no question but that the people know how to enjoy them. Lovers sitting, back-to-back on the fountain’s edge. Moms and dads walking, hand in hand, as the children run ahead. Readers, together or alone, aloud or quiet, papers spread or books wide. Animated discourse that you can’t understand but you imagine has politics at its core. I love this place. When we last saw it, it was brimming with raucous tulips and daffodils. The flower gardens, still beautiful, are quieter now, and on their way out.
~ ~ ~
One mid-afternoon we set out for Montmarte. This would be our first visit. It turned out to be a long walk, largely up hill, through colorful and crowded neighborhoods and business districts. Food smoke was rising with the scent of spices from all over the world. We heard languages and saw dress informing us that we’d arrived in an ethnically and richly diverse part of Paris.
At the top of the hill sits the cathedral, Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart). On the steps in front sat a colorful band of travelers who’d made the climb. Theirs was the perfect vantage point to see the sun as it set over Paris. We heard music. We looked at each other. It can’t be. But it was.
Hotel California, being sung quite badly, but in full voice. (You can see the proud fellow in black, standing in the middle of the crowd.) No one seemed to take much notice.
We went in, walked the perimeters of the church and read its history. Once again outside we walked to the side of the cathedral. In stark contrast to the front of the building, there were only two men. One, without legs, sat at the foot of the stairs, hoping that some (with charity in their hearts) might pass this lonely place.
And just a short distance to the right of him, a violinist.
…with a hauntingly beautiful Ave Maria rising from his strings…and almost no one there to hear.
Beyond the cathedral lies the square where artists and food venders gather under a canopy of umbrellas to sell what they create. Van Gogh himself painted here.
Late on another afternoon, after one of our long walks, we returned to the Louvre close by our hotel. The light was changing fast. We’d had in mind to leave, but we couldn’t. We stayed and watched the sun fall.
We walked the footbridge cross the Seine to the left bank. There we had dinner in a restaurant that felt 500 beautiful years old. (It couldn’t have been much less than that.) Our table, in front of an open 2nd story window looked onto Place Dauphine, this one lovely unforgettable night!
Walking the foot bridge over the Seine…
saying bon soir to Paris,
Tomorrow, something sweet (to eat) from the City of Lights…