Europe 2013 - The Paris Thing
In my pre-trip planning, Paris would have sat more in the "obligatory visit" category than the "must see" side of the ledger. In my post trip analysis it will have moved.
I've really enjoyed it here. Paris is different, and occasionally frustrating, but it has a swagger about it. I can see why the people of Paris are associated with arrogance, but my experience has been that the tag is an unfair one. We've had nothing but pleasant and cordial exchanges with pretty much everyone we've interacted with, and those exchanges have not occurred in anything even resembling passable French, I promise you (well, with the possible exception of my proficiency in ordering 'an espresso and a croissant please').
Moggy likes it here too. The icing on her cake happened when, after narrowly avoiding a collision with a fellow pedestrian and smiling in apology, he caught her up moments later and presented her with a single red rose. Arrogant bastard!
I even had some fun with a French telemarketer who rang the apartment - you guessed it - during dinner one evening. I only answered the phone as I thought it may be the apartment owner checking on us. Our conversation went something like:
We've learned little tricks about getting around the city each day: the wisdom of purchasing city zone train tickets at the start of the day so they can be used at convenient entrances to the subway which have no ticket sales facility; how to read the subway entrance signs to know precisely which lines are available at that entrance; how to exit the subway at the location you desire to be; and how to proficiently order a stand-up espresso and croissant (I'm guessing you are beginning spot sense my pride at this achievement?).
But, by far for me, it has been the beautiful architecture and public art works which have captured my imagination. For the sake of convenience one day we exited the subway at the station Châtelet les Halles and found ourselves virtually on the apron of the astounding Paris City Hall (Mairie de Paris). My point is that this exquisite building has never made its way onto my radar as a pleasing place to visit - it's just there. We stumbled upon it. And that's the thing about Paris, there are plenty of treasures to just discover by accident.
By a process other than accident we spent our final day here in the Musee du Louvre. It's indescribable! There is such an overload of priceless art, history and beauty on display that my senses became a little scrambled. I suspect that to visit the Louvre properly is to eat an elephant, and our bites were too large and inadequately masticated. One day, when I am wealthy and at leisure, I will return with a detailed art reference and spend days at a time in single galleries, learning about and absorbing what is on display. But I do feel privileged to have seen what I saw today. I also feel much more in touch with a song by the Crash Test Dummies which has been in my head all day:
If I could see, if I could see, if I could
So, I will leave Paris with regret, and I think Moggy and the girls feel the same. But the regret will be tempered by the promise of things to come; including the Bernina Express, Peter Gabriel, and The Eternal City.
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