Have you ever been somewhere so absurdly beautiful that it almost made you sad? F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “I remember riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again.”
Paris was like that for me – so pretty it made my eyes hurt, so magnificent that it rendered me prematurely nostalgic (even with two feet on French soil).
Everywhere we went I was struck dumb by unrelenting beauty, and simultaneously filled with an unprecedented sense of longing. My heart twanged like a rubber band.
There are no imperfections to take comfort in here – no ugly plot of dirt upon which to rest your eyes. From the exquisitely manicured landscapes, to the breathtaking architecture, to the priceless masterpieces dropped like pebbles at every street corner, every inch of the city is beautiful – almost confrontationally so.
The people are also good examples of this. Never have I come across more poise and polish than I have in Paris. The men have a graceful but somewhat bored look about them, as if they demand your attention but also don’t have the slightest patience for it. The women are so flawless – their outfits carefully put together, not a strand of hair out of place – that it makes you want to stand and applaud when they walk by.
There’s an unattainablity to it, the whole city just out of your reach.
But my god – if you can grasp it like we did for a few fleeting days, what an experience.
Here was our first day:
We hailed a cab from the airport, and our driver was a very amiable Haitian man. The ride was pleasant enough (if you don’t count going 90 miles per hour on the freeway) until we got into the city. That’s where, apparently, all driving rules become guidelines and all common courtesy goes out the window. ***there must be 10-15 car accidents on each street daily***The streets of Paris are built in such a way that it’s almost like the city planners were aiming for the most accidents possible. The lanes are so narrow that I don’t think I exhaled the entire ride, and the cab driver shouted at every third car or pedestrian, “With CAUTION, my god…” while blaring his horn. We would come to learn during our time in Paris that this was not at all uncommon – we had similar experiences in every taxi.
Even still though, we arrived at our hotel in La Ville de L’amour in one piece, and with enough daylight to still do some exploring.
The concierge recommended an “after work” (which we think means “happy hour”) cafe within a couple blocks from the hotel, so we set off in the light rain. At the cafe we ordered a cheese board and red wine (two foods I would have much more of in the days to come).
The rest of the evening can be best characterized by the word “yes.”
We passed a back alley bar with no name and no patrons – did we want to go in? Yes. The proprietor gestured to us in incomprehensible French – would we like to sit down? Yes. The special cocktail of the night was served out of a ladle from a big glass punchbowl on the counter. Do we dare to try it? Yes.
We moseyed our way to the next venue for dinner – a classy joint with that quintessentially French script font. Taylor shocked and impressed our waiter by ordering the special reserve vintage bottle of wine from the top of the menu.
After dinner, risotto leftovers in-hand, we passed a man on a petty cab – who asked, “Do you want a ride to the Eiffel Tower?”
Yes, yes we do.
He blasted his French pop music and toured us over every bridge for the views on the way – Taylor and I squealing and giggling in the back like overexcited toddlers. *** even after discovering the ride was 3 times what he quoted is initially and needed near an ATM for his convenience. Who cares right?***
We got to the Eiffel Tower just past sunset, when it began its famed light show. We stared up at it for a good few minutes, mouthes agape.
Then we were asked if we wanted to purchase Eiffel Tower souvenirs. Yes, in fact, we did.
Did we also want a selfie stick? Yes.
Did we want a bottle of champagne to drink on the grass? Yes.
(But paying full price for anything is against Taylor’s personal religion, so at least we got all of it for a deal)
We sat on French grass, drinking champagne and watching the Eiffel Tower light up, and I felt fully immersed into the magic of this city. No WONDER this is the subject of so many romance novels and blockbusters. No wonder it makes my heart ache. No wonder, as the Casablanca line goes, “We’ll always have Paris.”
… And this was all in the first five hours of stepping off the plane.
The next two days had me weak at the knees for this incredible town – we paid Tribute to Napoleon’s tomb and his famous Arc de Triomphe, and laid eyes on some of the world’s masterpieces at the Louvre and Musée de l’Orangerie.
We ate dinner at apparently the only restaurant in all of Paris open on Sundays, 400 square feet and housing approximately 50 people. We knocked elbows with the people on either side of us, and I ate quite possibly the butteriest, flakiest, most delicious fish I’ve ever had in my whole life.
We locked our love at le Pont Des Arts Bridge, and (like the cheese balls we are) threw the keys in the river. And on our last night, I made Taylor try escargot.
Paris, I have trouble believing that any city could compare to you – but I’m willing to give Rome a fighting chance.
Title: Paris so special— it can’t be broken down daily.
4.10.16-4.12.16 When I first booked this trip, I knew Paris was a must-see. I knew Susie had always wanted to see it and that if I didn’t add it to the list, it would spell trouble. Little did I know, when I left I would have completely changed my opinion for Paris and France.
In short, I always thought Paris was a wonderfully historic place, with people using this fancy language with incredible historic museums and landmarks.
However, what I didn’t understand was just how amazing I would feel while experiencing all of these things.
Look I like to consider myself a true blue American, not the kind that believes we need to make america great again, or that the 2nd amendment is our most special right to freedom. But instead someone that is so proud of where I come from and the culture I’ve grown up with. This might even make it more hard to enjoy the culture of other countries… However Paris found away to break that shell and show me something wonderful.
* Napoleon tomb and war museum. I loved it, always a fan of the history of Napoleons reign in France, this was on the must see list for me. It did not disappoint.
* Bistro and cafe meals – be it an afternoon coffee or beer, or an actual dinner I loved eating out in Paris.
* The Museum de Orangerie. Cinderella story I know – in comparison to the Louvre. However, the quality of art was exception and totally over delivered and my expectations for this little museum.
Underwhelming check-in: the Mona Lisa? So you walk, and walk and walk searching for the room that has the Mona Lisa painting. Then when you find it, the room is full of hundreds of people all staring and looking to take a pic of a relatively small painting. Obvs, it’s a historically famous piece of work – I just think the build up to see it was too much.
Whether it be art, history, beauty or genuine kindness from the people Paris was second to none. In my entire life, I’ve never stood in front of a piece of art and just stared at it looking for the meaning. I found myself becoming a better version of myself, intrigued by the unfamiliar and astonished as to why my mind had never been open to seeing this before.
I leave Paris a better man, I leave Paris a less ignorant person and I thank Paris for showing me a time that I will always remember.
Travel Notes while in Paris:
Edinburgh to Paris CDG via easyJet Airlines. Taxi to Marriott Ambassador Opera. Public metro throughout Paris.