We’ll Always Have Paris

Why, hello there. After spending a whirlwind weekend galavanting around The City of Light, I am certainly in accordance with Ms. Hepburn’s sentiment: “Paris is always a good idea.” My Parisian adventure began by hopping on the Eurostar train. While my amiable companion slept next to me, I sipped a cup of tea and watched the sunrise as the train traversed the French countryside.

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Top of the morning to you, France. Or should I say “bonjour…”

Upon arriving in Paris, hunger clawed at me and demanded that I acquire a crêpe immediately. Who was I to deny the voracious monster within? I contentedly acquiesced in the form of a raspberry jam crêpe. Ah, the fragrant aroma of warm, fresh crêpes on a chilly February morning.

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In this week’s edition of Janelle About To Ravenously Consume Foreign Food, I present to you… crêpes!

With a satiated stomach, I embarked on a mission of upmost importance: visiting Sainte-Chapelle, a stunningly beautiful church that I discovered during my ephemeral time as an art history scholar. Amongst the scores of churches I studied, Sainte-Chapelle always struck me as uniquely magnificent, so I was elated to witness it in person. Few people patronize Sainte-Chapelle because it is not nearly as well known as other churches in Paris (cough *Notre Dame* cough). I shall let the photographs tell the tale now.

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Consecrated on 26 April 1248, Sainte-Chapelle is among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. It possesses one of the most extensive 13th century stained glass collections in the world. Truly magnificent to behold. My photographs fail to do it justice.IMG_4904.jpg
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Absolutely giddy

After nearly fainting from sheer joy (kidding… somewhat), I remarkably managed to drag myself away from Sainte-Chapelle and capitalize on a rare sunny day in Paris by taking a walking tour of the city. First stop: Notre-Dame de Paris (French for “Our Lady of Paris”), one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Fun fact: Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress.

Whilst walking along the River Seine, I came across two love lock bridges. The former tells a sad tale…

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This used to be THE love lock bridge (I remember walking across it when I visited Paris years ago); however, it became so laden down with heavy locks that it was declared structurally unsound. Hence, the government removed the locks. Alas. Now we must hope that the couples’ love is as boundless as it is lockless.

But the latter bridge demonstrates that love triumphs in the end. I present to you… a new love lock bridge!

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Note that there are a few combination locks on this bridge. Read: removable. If ever a man tries to use a combination lock as a demonstration of his “eternal love” for you, please throw him into the river.

After ruminating on the triumph of love, another kind of triumph called my name: the Arc de Triomphe. Napoleon commissioned the Arc and demanded that he be the first person to walk under it; however, he died prior to its completion. His obedient subjects came up with a lovely solution: when the Arc was finally completed, they dug up his body and carried his casket under the Arc de Triomphe before placing him back in his tomb. I’d say it was a real Triomphe Over Death.

My friend went off to see the Moulin-Rouge, so I dinned alone, enjoying the serenity of the Parisian night. Over a scrumptious savory meal in a tiny creperie, I chatted with the restaurant owner about Paris and his life. Warning: the next photograph contains delectable cuisine. Proceed with caution if peckish.

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After dining, I decided to walk to Shakespeare and Company, a marvelous little bookshop in Paris. Shakespeare and Co was opened by Sylvia Beach on November 19, 1919. During the 1920s, Beach’s shop was a gathering place for many then-aspiring young writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. On my way to Shakespeare and Co, I stopped dead in my tracks. There’s something rather magical about walking the streets of Paris alone at night, crossing over bridges, softly singing “Under the Bridges of Paris” to oneself. The following beautiful sight shall remain permanently etched into my mind.

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Notre-Dame illuminated at night

Fortuitously, Notre-Dame sits right across the road from Shakespeare and Co. When I visited Shakespeare and Co years ago, I took a photograph in front of it; hence, on this night, I sought to recreate the original photograph. The bookshop’s facade remains exactly as I remember it although the years have danced by. I entered Shakespeare and Co and immediately went up the narrow staircase into the reading room where I curled up in a cozy chair by the window and read a book on Shakespeare and the art of wit.

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After an exhausting and gratifying day, I headed back to my Parisian abode. Upon arriving home, my friend inquired, “do you want to go out?” We looked at each other, paused for a moment, then burst out laughing. “Absolutely not.” We climbed into our beds at the lovely hour of 10pm and immediately passed out.

We commenced day two with big smiles and bigger croissants. Paris charms me with its tendency to provide welcome surprises with every turn. If you walk throughout the city, you will always discover something new. Take this fountain, for instance.

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Our mugs in front of The Fontaine Saint-Michel, a monumental fountain that should theoretically spew water although we cannot attest to whether it actually does.

We passed the fountain on our way to the most famous art museum in the world: the Louvre. Interesting enough, the courtyard with glass pyramids used to be a mere parking lot! In 1989, France sagaciously decided to turn it into a pyramid clad courtyard that would serve as the grand entrance to the Louvre.

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I spent the morning waltzing around the Louvre, overjoyed at the prospect of revisiting beloved sculptures and seeing paintings by some of my favorite artists.

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And now, what you’ve all been waiting for… an accurate perspective of the Mona Lisa and her adoring fans.

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Note the chap with the selfie stick

After fighting off the swarm of tourists, I was ready for a dose of tranquility. Off to The Musée d’Orsay to see one of  the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. My favorite piece by Van Gogh resides in this museum! A myriad of people were jockeying for position around the painting, which made taking a photo rather difficult, but do not fear, I asserted my dominance.

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Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh, 1888. Sigh.

I also marveled at the collection of Renoir’s!

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Bal du moulin de la Galette by Renoir
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Dance in the Country  and Dance in the City  by Renoir

How does one end a whirlwind weekend in Paris? By giving one’s regards to the Eiffel Tower, of course.

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Whilst waiting for the sun to set, we procured dinner at a tiny cafe near the Eiffel Tower. Then the lighting ceremony commenced, and, suddenly, the Eiffel Tower was ablaze with twinkling lights!

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As Ernest Hemingway once penned, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Bonne nuit.

~Janelle

 

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