Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Parisian Affair

(Part 1 and 2 are here and here.)

(This trip officially got over roughly a month and a half ago. That I am writing about it only now shows how lazy I have been about it. Bear with me! When I forget something, I look at pictures, close my eyes, or turn around and ask my husband. It helps that I do not have any major responsibilities bogging me down!)

As we bid goodbye to Germany and drove towards Paris, I felt a little melancholic. We were leaving behind the green mountains, which will soon be barren and ready for the white blanket of snow.

Big city Paris awaited us and I was really looking forward to visiting the city a second time. But it was a long way to go and just as we entered France from Germany, we decided to head to Strasbourg. It was on the way, no detour was required, and it doesn't hurt to spend some time in a new city. Strasbourg is just across the border, a big French city, heavily influenced by German architecture.

We parked near the city centre, walked towards the centre and came across a beautiful music shop selling excellent music. I bought a Brazilian capoeira music CD and my SIL got a classic...I think Bach. I could be wrong.

A walk around town brought us to a cathedral with Gothic architecture and beautiful colored glasses inside. Some pictures of Strasbourg.

I was really excited to see Paris again and see it through a fresh pair of eyes and also see it through my own memory. We left Strasbourg at around 1 that afternoon and estimated the arrival time at Paris around 5 hours later. It took us longer than that. We underestimated driving into the city, through the city. Not only were we met with traffic as we entered the city, but we also had to find our way through the city to our hotel. Small lanes, sometimes uphill, made navigation difficult. Eventually, we reached the hotel reception centre where the receptionist was practically waiting for us at the door. We quickly went through the formalities. We were told the studio used to be Picasso's studio while he lived in this district! My SIL and I decided to walk to the apartment and the guys followed reluctantly by car.

It was late by the time we settled in and we still had to go and deliver the car. We were tired after 2 hours of driving rather aimlessly in city traffic and must have broken a few traffic rules as well. It was absolute horror because we were racing across the city to deliver the car before 11 that night or face being charged for another day and we couldn't find a gas station. We managed fine with a few gentle souls to help us along the way.

I cannot begin to describe the excitement of living in the SAME apartment where Picasso lived! And we had direct, clear view of the Eiffel tower! For the next 4 days, we had unrestricted access to Paris as never before. We were not confined by schedules and maps. My brother and his wife were! But D and I were visiting for the second time and we just walked around, planned around their plans, and soaked in the very unique atmosphere of the city.

One particular moment stands out. D and I were at Sacré-Cœur Basilica in the Montmartre district of Paris. It was around noon. The sun was shining bright and we joined the other tourists and sat at the stairs. Our backs faced the basilica and we had a direct view of the city from the hilltop. There was a artist playing the harp and just as we sat, he started to play the Canon D. Now this tune is so close to my heart and I was in this marvelous city...the moment caught up on me and it was pure magic! I literally teared up behind my glasses!

Over the next few days, we ate pastries, cooked at the studio, stared at the tower from our windows till after midnight, visited Les Invalides and the Catacombs. The fees at the former were a little steep and we stood in line to enter the Catacombs but they stopped entry just when it was our turn. N and S were able to visit it the next day, though. We walked to the Panthéon and we were able to attend the mass service one fine Sunday morning at the Notre Dame Cathedral!

I played guide where I could, we ate ice cream and ate the lovely, hot French-onion soup, listened to artists and stopped to applaud and drop a few coins everywhere we saw them, at metro stations, under bridges, on the roadside. We repeated the bicycle tour we took the first time, in which we cycled around the city for 3 hours as night set upon us and then took a cruise along the Seine. D and I took walk tours and walked around the city with locals showing us the unknown nooks and corners of the city.

If it were possible, I'd be the one getting caught red-handed having a passionate affair with the city. Nothing I say and nothing you read and watch on TV can come close to describing the feeling of being IN the city. Would I live there? Perhaps a younger and careless self would have loved it. But the current self is just happy it got to visit the city a 3rd time, only for a weekend, to watch a dance recital! I planned my weekend in such a way that I allowed only 12 hours under the roof of a friend. The entire time I was out and about, walking along the Seine, sitting by the Eiffel and visiting the Musée d'Orsay.

Anyways, I had to get back to Marseille to commence dance lessons so D and I got back in the morning train and the other two followed at night. We were upon our last leg of this marvelous tour! Like always, when I end a travel post, I realise how lucky I have been to be able to see the places I have and experience these different cultures. An open heart and a smile on the face can get you some very good education. 


sharjes mohammed said...

Damn, that church looks so Goth.
That last line in the blog is very cryptic. :)

Gargee said...

...because these two help begin a conversation with strangers. And I have had my lovely, fair share of yapping with them of late. :)