Fifteen days in Paris....
There is something about Paris that has pulled at the strings of my heart since I was a young girl. It whispered to me in my dreams, this mythical capital of culture and love, luring me with promises of romance and grand architecture, of accordians and cafés, of promenades through winding streets, of parks and gardens, of its iconic structures and hidden gems, of freshly-baked baguettes and glasses of wine, of flower markets and bistros, of fashionably attired men and women, of the most amazing light I had ever seen. Like so many others before me, Paris loomed large in my psyche, and for more than thirty years, my desire be there intensified with each passing year.
In February, I spent fifteen days in Paris. She was everything I had expected and more. All of the things one might associate with Paris were even more magical in person; there was nothing cliché about them. The Eiffel Tower, for example, is truly awe-inspiring. The intricately woven iron girders seem almost delicate and lacy. The first story of the structure is decorated with the gilded names of those involved in the construction of the tower. When the sun is at the right angle, their names glow in remembrance and pay hommage to their skill. The presence of la grande dame is felt in the city, as if she were a guardian watching over us all, illuminating the darkness and calling us home.
Sacré Coeur, the basicillica, which presides over Montmartre is also a marvel. There was a stillness inside this grand edifice, despite the throngs of visitors. A thousand tiny, red prayer candles illuminated the alcoves, a thousand whispered wishes and gestures of gratitude from a multitude of souls, some lost, some wounded, some found. Soft light spilled in through the stained glass windows, each one a mastepiece in and of itself, bathed the pews in an otherworldly glow. We sat in reverence, holding hands in this sacred space.
My last afternoon in Paris was the day we visited Notre Dame. It was a grey day, typical of that time of year, and yet there was a luminosity that added to the mystery and timelessness of the grand structures near the cathedral. Notre Dame is situated on an island (Île de la Cité) in the middle of the Seine, the grand river that runs through Paris, and traverses northern France to terminate at the Atlantic Ocean.
Notre Dame was incredibly crowded that day, and we were unable to visit the inside of the cathedral. We strolled around the exterior and through the little garden behind the church. We traversed the pont d'archeveche (the lover's bridge) strewn with locks, symbols of love and promises.
A typical Parisian street scene. The ever-present Seine is at the far right of the photo.
The buildings lining the streets of Paris exude a charm I have never seen in the US. As one who is partial to grey and shades of cream, I immdeiately felt at home here. I am drawn to their stone façades, their intiricate ironwork, their tall windows.
As we headed back to the car that day, back across the bridge, we were serenaded by an accordian. Strains of music drifted across the bridges and down the streets, floated above the Seine, and now linger in the halls of my memory.
Until next time...