Friday, 8 June 2018

My Paris Rendezvous

That's Notre-Dame in the background!

Paris was never on my bucket list. I always thought it was overrated. The only thing I was interested in was French food, but then don't we have tons of excellent French restaurants across the world? When it comes to visual pleasure the only thing worth seeing was Eiffel and what of it? We have seen so many pictures of it anyways that what new would you get out of it? In fact I distinctly remember asking my husband, "How different would be the view from what we saw over the London Eye?"

And that's why I am glad I married someone who doesn't share my cynical views on things and  convinced me that I need to take this trip. He assured me that I wouldn't regret it. Half-heartedly I obliged.

My first look of Paris was that of it's famous metro and it didn't disappoint me. There is a certain "old" feel to it, which I found quite charming. We stayed in a tiny apartment on 6th floor with beautiful French windows and lovely view. The only thing we had planned for was "Eiffel viewing" and the rest was supposed to be an impromptu vacation!

It was even better when it rained, unfortunately couldn't take a pic

So remember when I said Eiffel was overrated? Well I was wrong, by a large margin. No matter how many pictures you have seen you should still visit it. If possible till the summit. I insist you should spend the whole evening there, watch sunset and come down and watch the whole tower glow and glimmer like a dazzling diva in a crowded room! If you manage to ignore the innumerable clicks and flashes of camera and occasional vendor selling "water", you would actually walk away with a memorable sight and beautiful night.

View From Eiffel Tower

Once we were done with Eiffel, we were left to do nothing with 3 days in hand. So we decided to visit Montmartre. The obvious reason would be to visit Sacré-Cœur, a beautiful basilica on it's own right but I would be lying if I said I didn't have an ulterior motive behind visiting the place. You see Montmartre has been a base, at one time or another, for almost all of the famous artists who have lived in France over the last century. It had become the centre for all artistic and intellectual life in Paris. Maybe they were inspired by the spectacular view or cheap rents(not anymore!) or the fact that red light district was just around the corner! I mean how could you not go to a place where Picasso stood painting or a place where Hemingway had heated conversations with Fitzgerald! (OK that may be a stretch of my imagination, but who know right?) The point is the place still holds the residue of its glorious days and you can feel it when you sit on the pavements and listen to street artists play soulful music all day long.

These guys were so amazing that we end up spending an entire hour listening to them!

Sacré-Cœur Basilica
In two days we had covered two of the most prominent places and decided it was time we live like a true parisian and dedicate majority of our time to eating! So for rest of our trip this was our schedule -wake up leisurely-have a fresh baguette,build up the appetite - picked a restaurant - walk around exploring places near the vicinity of that restaurant till it opens - have a long 3 course lunch - walk into nearby cafe and sit around sipping wine till some food is digested - continue walking around till dinner - another fabulous feast - resume your wine drinking session till you are too tired to hold your glass and doze off!

After few(too many) wine everything seems merry!

On our first day we made the mistake of eating pizza from a "touristy" place and immediately regretted it. We were so ashamed of ourselves that we swore we will never repeat such a mistake, even if it meant we had to starve for few hours till we find a good place. When in France you have to experiment and try some of the local cuisine. At this point I would like to explain why I was wrong about eating French food outside France. The difference is that if you want to eat good french food outside you have to go in a really good fine dine, whereas in Paris you could walk into any of the countless cafes along the road and eat mouth watering delicacies for a fraction of the cost. Not to mention they make best baguettes in the world, which are served generously with every meal!

Along the Seine river

So I am happy to say that I was wrong about Paris, that it is indeed a romantic city. Not in the lovey-dovey sense, no, I mean it has a romantic soul. It portrays an idealized euphoric picture. You look around and in every street and corner you see the lights, the cafes, people drinking and singing. Yes, it is a good life.

Note: Just in case you are wondering why we didn't visit Monalisa in Louvre - although I am an ardent supporter of art, standing in queue for half a day, only to share the moment with jam-packed crowd pushing and shoving is not my idea of vacation. We did walk around the premises and looked at infamous Louvre Pyramid.