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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Paris Is A Woman's Town, With Flowers In Her Hair

Dear friends,

Paris is a city you fall in love with immediately! And unconditionally! Well at least that is how it was for me... I was in love with Ireland and France ever since I can remember - I blame it all on Alexandre Dumas father and son and + my mum who was listening to Joe Dassin + all the movies with Louis de Fun├Ęs that I saw when I was a wee lass... I always knew that sooner or later I will want to see Paris and so I did. I had to wait many years - until my second year of Masters degree - until I went there with Clara :) Claire Bear is a sweet friend of mine andI have told you about here, on my blog. We went for a longer weekend to Paris and it was beautiful! So I wanted to share with you some thoughts - and some quotes - on Paris and maybe even make you think of jumping in a plane and having a weekend there for yourself ;)
My Fav Picture From Paris - Taken With My Nokia E51
“Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living, there is no place like home.”
Henry van Dyke
“Paris was a universe whole and entire unto herself, hollowed and fashioned by history; so she seemed in this age of Napoleon III with her towering buildings, her massive cathedrals, her grand boulevards and ancient winding medieval streets--as vast and indestructible as nature itself. All was embraced by her, by her volatile and enchanted populace thronging the galleries, the theaters, the cafes, giving birth over and over to genius and sanctity, philosophy and war, frivolity and the finest art; so it seemed that if all the world outside her were to sink into darkness, what was fine, what was beautiful, what was essential might there still come to its finest flower. Even the majestic trees that graced and sheltered her streets were attuned to her--and the waters of the Seine, contained and beautiful as they wound through her heart; so that the earth on that spot, so shaped by blood and consciousness, had ceased to be the earth and had become Paris.”
Anne Rice, Interview With The Vampire 
“The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane. Each sentence we produce, whether we know it or not, is a mongrel mouthful of Chaucerian, Shakespearean, Miltonic, Johnsonian, Dickensian and American. Military, naval, legal, corporate, criminal, jazz, rap and ghetto discourses are mingled at every turn. The French language, like Paris, has attempted, through its Academy, to retain its purity, to fight the advancing tides of Franglais and international prefabrication. English, by comparison, is a shameless whore.”
Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
“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.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast  
I must admit I wanted to do this post for a very long while but I did not have the time to sort through all the pictures from the Paris trip with Claire so I had to make do with the pictures I already had on Facebook - but you will forgive me for that ;) It would be madness to try and explain Paris or what it means to me but I can tell you some things that were on my to do list and some extra things we managed to do.
  • Stay in a small hostel, just in the back of the well known Moulin Rouge. Don't be afraid of the small elevators and always eat breakfast at the hostel, the croissants are tasty and hot and the coffee is very good ;)
  • Talk to people around you and especially to the people at the hostel and in the room you are staying. We stayed in a 4 bed room with inside bath and it was really cozy and quiet. We made friends and we even went together to a walk in the evening at the Tour Eiffel.
  • Try to get off the beaten path of the tourists and get yourself lost. We got lost in Montmartre and we bumped into wonderful street artists. There is the first place I have ever heard of / heard / seen a hang instrument
    The Hang Drum :)
  • Visit the Versailles and leave leave yourself at least a day for that. An entire day to wonder in the beautiful palace and make sure to wonder around in the gardens and even have a picnic on the grass there - nevermind the rain, even if it catches you... Make sure you will not miss the Petit Trianon. Although Madame de Pompadour, who wished to “relieve the king’s boredom”, was the instigator of this small palace that Gabriel built in the 1760s, it is the memory of Marie-Antoinette that hangs over the building. In 1774, Louis XVI offered the Trianon estate to the Queen who was able to live away – too far away for some – from the Court.
     Inside-out Versailles is a dream... (above 2 pictures were taken with Nokia E51)
    Inside Marie Antoinette's Rose Cottage & Garden
  • Save another day for 2 of the best museums in town: The Louvre & The Orsay. We choose to stay at Louvre just for the paintings and the sculptures and we went off the premises after 4 hours! Orsay is much more easier to handle and it is very intimate and very special for me as it holds numerous Rodin pieces I love :) 
  • Have a very relaxing day at the Montmartre and see Sacre Coeur and visit the cemetery where you can find Emile Zola, Hector Berlioz and my all time fav author Alexandre Dumas. You can take your time and pay your respects for the love they put into you for a country far away.
    Alexandre Dumas Grave
  • At least walk by the Paris Opera house and think of the story of The Phantom Of The Opera. Unfortunately one of the things I always wanted to do was go inside The Opera and see it in its full glory. Maybe that means that one day I will be back :)
  • Conquer the Tour Eiffel - tell you the truth I have not managed that. First time we tried to go up but the queues were so huge we said we would just walk up the stairs... We did not figure out that it would be so chilly and windy. We ended up 2/3 of the way and stopped there as all elevators had huge queues and we were to cold to go further on foot. We said we would try again the next day - which we did but unfortunately the upper part was closed the next days due to strong wind... Another sing I must come back ;)  
  • Check the Notre Dame for The Hunchback ;) or at least have a look at the gargoyles and feast your eyes upon the best view over Paris :)
    Yep! We made it! :)
    But we did not find the Hunchback... (taken with Nokia E51)
  • Walk! and ocasionally be wild and take the Metro :) each stop has these wonderful metro signs very antique and twirly and artsy. There are so many things that you just pass by... just open your eyes to the beauties that Paris has to offer you and don't go all automatic pilot into it ;)
    Paris Metro - On My Way To Versailles
  • Go into a ordinary local small shop and buy cheese, to another one and buy some grapes, buy a baguette and get going with your friends to catch a good place to sit down under The Tour Eiffel and watch it light at night. Watch it light and sparkle and pop a bottle of wine and have a picnic. Have a picnic, I did that ;)
  • Have yourself an early morning or late afternoon walk along the Seine and take in the sights and the people... the local artists selling antiques - books and prints and whatever you think of :) Grab a sandwich and eat it as you take a look in their merchandise but be careful not to stain anything ;) 
    Watch as Notre Dame de Paris appears at a distance and make your way through to feed the pidgeons in front of it and maybe sit down and sketch the facade...
  • Walk in the night - be not afraid, it is calm and quiet and you get to see the wonderful old buildings come to life. You will see The Louvre all light up and you will watch the Tour Eiffel sparkle in the distance and you will go back to your motel with a full heart, passing by people drinking wine in the street and dancing without any care...
  • Go visit Napoleon Bonaparte and see how cold and monumental a grave can get... How weird is it to have thousands upon thousands visiting you and you being locked up, unable to say that maybe you would like the kind of privacy that maybe Alexandre Dumas or Emile Zola has... that even though there are so many people around you, you still feel cold and alone...
  • And last, but NEVER least, go inside a bookstore and get yourself lost there... I got lost into finding the book I love, one of the books of my childhood, a book for children and for grown up alike, a book about true love and about friendship: Le Petit Prince.
** I did this post for the Traveling Tuesday but most of all I did this post with all my heart. I hope that one day you will manage to go to Paris and you will let me know of your own checklist. I hope and pray that one day I will come back and I will manage to go inside The Opera and I will manage to go until the end of Eiffel... One day! :) All in due time ;) **

Yours truly,
A LadyBug In Love With Paris