There is nothing better, than to visit a busy, tourist city during low season. Backpack with a few clothes, a book, my laptop, the feeling that now’s the right moment, a train ticket to Gare du Nord and the excitement: Finally Paris, bring me to the French capital!
We come on a Saturday, a day for the French to protest, resembling almost a military situation, you can feel the escalation of tension between the protesters and the police, as soon as you exit Gare du Nord. Now’s the best time to see the beauty of Paris, a Paris, without tourist deceptions, the real Paris! Walking aside the blockade starting from La place de la Concorde, stretching through the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, all the way to L’arc de Triomphe, in the Eye of the storm, I witnessed the struggle of the police to resolve the conflict, just a typical Parisian Saturday…
The Sunday, however, was sunny and peaceful – no fear or discomfort, the streets were open, the shops working, the brasseries and cafés, full of people. For less than 48 hours, I managed to reach the Eiffel Tower, see the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Élysées, the Arc of Triumph, Moulin Rouge, Sacré-Cœur, the Wall of Love, walked around the Louvre and it’s gardens, had brunch at Marché des Enfants Rouges (the market of the red kids), the Montmartre Cemetery, the cathedral Notre-Dame, the Centre Pompidou and walked the streets for hours and hours.
A comfortable pair of shoes is your best friend in Paris, because there is so much waiting to be seen and doing an average of 40 thousand steps each day can be hard, especially since no matter how much you see, there’s this always this thirst for more, as if you’ve just touched the surface of something great and beautiful, and you cannot wait to see it all.
Walking down the streets or running up the hills, gives you this imaginary feeling, that you are so free. Endless pavements surrounded by classical European architecture, with venues to accomodate you on every corner. It feels endless, like the Tuileries Garden outside the Louvre, even roaming them in winter, all that I was thinking about, was just how big this place is – open, green, amazing, with statues of naked people all around, it felt so very French.
I visited the Montmartre Cemetery, first cemetery to visit while on a trip abroad, I was surprised to find it to be an extraordinary experience, because visiting a famous city, and going to a cemetery, full of famous people, can be quite the reminder, of how fragile we are and how time flies. So better hurry up and make the best of the little time, that you have on this Earth! Unlike other times when I went to sanctuary like that, the emotions that overcame me, were not sadness, sorrow and grief, but instead I felt peace, respect and reflected on the thought, that everything is transient, temporary and mortal.
In the brasserie and bistros, that we visited, the food wasn’t too much to my taste, however the garçons were always very polite and almost, as if they came out of an old movie or something, with their manners and the way they pronounce Mademoiselle and Monsieur. The French quality of service is so good, that you feel much less like a regular customer, but instead, as if you were a VIP guest. Don’t forget to have some Cidre Brut (dry cider), I found it amazing – tasty, bubly, sour and pleasant to drink.
As a French chançon, I leave this story unfinished and continue to plan my next visit to Paris, seeking impressions to be shared…