‘‘Paris is always a good idea’‘ -Audrey Hepburn
Paris is a city that is always on the move, you blink and you know not where you stand. People pass by and you cannot help but notice their elegant-looking coats, they reek of Dior and their scarves have Hermes written all over them, their bags are those that you see when you stand outside a Louis Vuitton store, thinking to yourself, ”Will I ever be able to lay my hands on those?’‘ While doing so, you are fixed to your spot and you realize that you are lost.
Somewhere down the street, a busker plays a beautiful symphony, you walk on by and he greets you ‘‘Bonjour mademoiselle, comment allez vous?” (Hello miss, how have you been?) You smile, he smiles back and then you forget all about him. The streets are perpetually wet but that does not deter the heels from being high, the cafes lining those streets are always busy, but no one really cares to leave their tables and their ‘cafe au lait‘ for someone else. You meet a stranger and you strike a conversation, he tells you about how much he loves his city and you keep listening. He speaks in an accent that seems to be enrobed in chocolate and those sweet words help you discover the city of lights, of fashion, of love. And you, my friend realize that you are lost in this maze called Paris, forever.
The sky was a clear baby blue, dotted here and there with clouds that looked like cotton balls and the sun was smiling down at me. I was looking at an intricate map of the city with its various arrondissements (divisions), asking random people for directions and walking without a destination in mind. The next thing I knew was that I was facing the colossal Arc De Triomphe with its intricate carvings, a brilliant history and a great view of the city from the top. A little conversation with several locals in my unpolished French and a few pictures later, I started to move further. After a short walk where I sighted some ten limousines and cursed my luck, I was bang in the middle of what is known as Champs Elysees. Here, I feasted my eyes on a breath-taking array of clothing and footwear from the most popular fashion labels in the world. The Blahniks, the Jimmy Choos, the McQueens, the Yves Saint Laurents, The Pradas and the Gallianos screamed into my ears ‘‘We’re all yours!” and I carefully avoided them while wishing I were the then French President’s wife. I however rewarded myself for possessing such amazing self-control with some Crepes au Nutella (nutella pancakes) from a vendor across the street. I then had this epiphany that the best things in life come for a nominal amount of money, if not for free.
I could not deny the fact that the previous day had roused the shopaholic inside of me, so I decided to visit this huge department store called Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann which houses major clothing and footwear brands. I spent a few bucks on some amazing dresses and shoes and those three shopping bags in my hands instilled this sense of ecstasy within me, a feeling that I cannot really describe till date. The Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris was the next ‘must see‘ attraction as per my guidebook and the beauty of the French Gothic architecture took me by surprise. I was simply awestruck by whatever I got to see and this continued when I found myself inside this grand structure called the Musee Du Louvre, where the Mona Lisa was looking at me, her eyes following me throughout, her mysterious smile fixed where Da Vinci wanted it to be, Venus De Milo’s perfection left both my eyes and mouth wide open and I made sure that I posed for a picture in front of the Louvre Pyramid so that I could take something back for my grandmother to see. I aspired to become an artist in my next life, the moment I stepped out of The Louvre and I was seized by this sudden afflatus to do something that would make me happy that very moment and I did so by taking a short cruise on the Bateaux Parisiens (The Parisian Boats) on the pristine Seine River. It was past eight in the evening, the city was glimmering owing to the million lights, I was on a little boat, enjoying a bowl of soup and I sighed to myself, such is life.
After having spent the morning at the Jardin Du Luxembourg, while eating a baguette, flipping through my copy of Great Expectations and watching some incredibly cute babies play with their dogs, I decided to grace Euro Disney, or Disneyland, with my presence. This was one experience that was simply surreal: replete with its colours, happy people, peals of musical laughter, toffee apples, rainbow lollipops, crazy rides and all the joy in the world. It was one side of Paris that I did not know existed. I was however forced to bid a sad farewell to the place and during the one hour ride in the RER or the Réseau Express Régional, (something akin to the Paris metro) I decided to get down near the Boulevard De Grenelle and walk towards the Tour Eiffel, or simply the Eiffel Tower, and feast my eyes upon the wonder that Gustave Eiffel had created for the world to see. I was intoxicated by its magnificence and only remember staring at it, dumbstruck. All of this, while eating some Belgian chocolate ice-cream because I could not help myself.
My last day in the city was all about aimless wandering, so I happened to pass by the famous Rue De Rivoli, simply walked into the red-light district of Pigalle without getting into trouble, said a little ‘hi’ to the Musee D’Orsay, brushed past the Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre and realized how tired I was at the end of the day. When it was time for dinner, I did not feel brave enough to try the local French delicacies: snails or escargot and frog legs or Cuisse de grenouilles to name a few. I was, however, famished, so I settled for some cheese fondue, a beautiful salmon dish with truffle oil and a glass of white wine followed by a magnificent Creme Brulee and I knew that I was a happy little girl post that. I also knew that it was time for me to go back, that my holiday was over and I was trying to cover up the fact by digging myself into food. Because all that I wanted was to not go, I never wanted to come back. Ever.
This is what Paris does to you. It mesmerizes you, seduces you, charms you and you feel like you are in an inebriated state throughout. Maybe there’s a reason behind calling it the city of love and romance, because when in Paris, you cannot help but be constantly in love – amour as the French call it.
I still remember the time when the huge window in the living-room of my apartment provided me a brilliant view of the Eiffel Tower, the rains were light and there was this nip in the air, my coffee mug was set on the corner of the table, right beside the window and Dickens was telling me all about how miserable Pip’s life had become by virtue of Estella’s entry. Edith Piaf would play on the radio, My Chemical Romance would scream into my ears upon changing the channel and then I would immediately switch to Charlotte Gainsbourg. My bed was always unmade, ramen noodles had become my new best friend and I had nothing to worry about. I was beyond ecstatic; I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, there was nothing more that I could have asked for. Maybe apart from wanting to marry Nicolas Sarkozy, but wait, that’s a different story altogether.
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