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Monday, May 23, 2011

Paris: The City

What more could possibly be said about the magical city of lights, Paris?  Paris is indeed a special place.  I feel a bit gluttonous as I have had the privilege of being in Paris on 6 different occasions.  This means that I've seen many of the sites, sometimes twice, and can now enjoy the privilege it is to simply "be" in the city.  This time around we did not visit any museums.  Long lines, prior visits and sunny days kept us outside.  Instead we wandered around the neighborhoods we love and explored a few new places.  I discovered the world's largest shopping bag and found a gorgeous perfume shop. Small squares filled with fountains and flowers abound. I visited the Marais district for the first time.  I saw where Victor Hugo lived, the gorgeous Place de Vosges with its regal apartment buildings and lovely square. I enjoyed an early morning coffee in the Jewish quarter. On another day I walked through the Latin Quarter, impressed by the Sorbonne, dazzled by the Luxembourg gardens.  I enjoyed the view of Notre Dame from the small Île Saint-Louis in the center of town. We figured out that Bus 69 took us on a joy ride from the Eiffel Tower to the Place de Bastille.  We walked toward the Arc de Triumph along the Champs-Elysées where we stumbled upon a photo shoot that Abercrombie and Fitch were doing.  I find them a despicable company, marketing to youth in a most unsavory manner and yet I could not resist my "Mrs. Robinson moment" when given the chance to be photographed surrounded by the Adonis-like models.  We sat on the shores of the Seine, facing the gorgeous facade of the Musee d'Orsay, our favorite, the home of the lovely Impressionists.  This afternoon was quintessential Paris: Grabbed a cheap bottle of red wine and a baguette and made our way to the riverside.  We sat in the sun, laughed about life, shared our thoughts and indulged in our treats.  Of course, we made our way to Eiffel Tower a couple of times, once at night, once during the day.  This is a site that does not disappoint.  The closer you get, the more mammoth it becomes and on the hour in the evening when it begins to twinkle, a childlike wonder erupts in your spirit.  How many times can you see it and have your breath taken away?  Every time it comes into view from the various vantage points in the lovely city that sprawls out around it. 
Our favorite afternoon was spent with our dear friends Daniel and Marie who live in the outskirts of Paris.  Daniel grew up in Paris and drives around the city with no problem at all!  We headed up to Montmarte with them, home of Sacré-Cœur, the huge, wedding cake-like basilica that is perched on this hilltop. I love this area of Paris with the square filled with artists and narrow streets that twist and turn all around you.  In addition to the lovely time spent on Montmarte, the drive through town was equally as thrilling!  You haven't experienced Paris until you've driven in the giant mix master that is the round point that surrounds the Arch de Triumph!  What a thrill to see how Daniel navigated these 8 or 9 lanes (or non-lanes) of traffic to get where we needed to go!  The thrill ride ended with the view along the Seine that allows one to see that amazing Eiffel Tower once again alongside of the miniature version of the Statue of Liberty that overlooks the river. 
Ahhhhh, the city of Paris.  It is easy on the eyes.