my sister and i arrived in paris on a friday and made our way to the hotel – a cute little place not far from the place de la repulique. not exactly central, but paris is easily navigated with the metro. i was glad to see that my memory of the city stayed somewhat in tact, though it had been several years since i was last there. since it was skye’s first time in paris, we had on our agenda all of the touristic things: the louvre, the musee d’orsay, the musee rodin, the eiffel tour (of course), bateaux mouches, the sacre coeur, versailles. it seemed like a lot to do in five short days – and no visit to paris is complete without sampling something of the nightlife as well. our first night, we went to the quartier latin – the central hive of paris, where tourists explore the tiny twisting streets of the left bank and restauranteurs are like carnival barkers inviting you to step right up and taste their wares. we ended up meeting some locals and drinking wine on the street – pas de probleme in paris: it is easy to see that they are not so regimented as in the states and not so inclined to enforce the rules there are.
the next day, a grand walking tour: the place de la concorde where a giant obelisk from egypt is encircled by a crazy mess of traffic that somehow manages not to result in carnage. the champs elysee was stuffed with people shopping and gawping at the grand palais and walking toward the giant arch de triomphe in the distance. paris in the summer is like new york: the tourists come, the locals depart for nice or marocco, the atlantic coast, bretagne. it was surprisingly chilly at times, as paris can be cloudy, but that isn’t a bad thing when you are walking everywhere. we crossed the seine and made our way to the eiffel tower. for me, it is impossible to be there without remembering the first time i was there, with my other sister, erika, who was our frequent topic of conversation, especially because of the approaching anniversary of her death last year at burning man. we walked the length of the park and found a cafe to sit at and talk, enjoying a traditional parisian pastime: drinking kir royales and eating some light snacks, chatting about life.
it was saturday night and we decided we’d go to the sacre coeur after sunset to see the lights of paris, another happy memory of something my sister erika and i did together the first time we were there together. at night the grand stairs in front of the church atop montmartre are full of people drinking, smoking, playing music, talking. it is a great way to soak up the atmosphere of the city and i had luckily remembered there was a market at the bottom of the hill where we bought beers and admired the lights of the city far below. i remembered the magic of the first time i was there with erika, how it had felt like i was standing at the edge of the world, looking out into a sea of blackness full of stars. we ate a quick meal before continuing on to a club we’d heard about called silencio. david lynch designed it and apparently before 11 there are performances there, but we got there around midnight. the music was good and the crowd was interesting. before we knew it, it was almost 3 and we were lucky to have met some people who drove us back to our hotel in two blinks.
sunday was our day for the musee rodin – my favorite museum in paris, because of its small size and the fact that rodin both lived and worked in the house that now houses his work as well as the work of some of his contemporaries, notably, his lover and apprentice camille claudel.
from there we continued to the musee d’orsay, a former train station that was saved and converted into a beatuiful museum, full of french art, primarily.
that night we met some friends at the deux magots, the famous cafe where artists and writers like de beauvoir, sartre, and anais nin used to have a petit cafe and talk of philosophy and politics, their work, their lives. it is still a vibrant place and the people there on a sunday night are regulars, of course mixed with the requisite tourists, like ourselves. my french was coming back quickly and we talked there for hours before going to a club called barron, a dark boite de nuit with red decor where the music was varied and fun to dance to.
the next day, we planned to see the louvre, but our late night led to a late start. we walked through the area of les halles, where there is shopping and the centre pompidou. we bought a lock to place on the pont des artistes for erika. like the brooklyn bridge, it is a custom to place a lock there for wishes or in memory of someone.
we went to the louvre and it was already 4 pm. the line was long to the main entrance, but we found a side entrance with no line at all and managed to see everything that interested us in two hours, though it was crazy there with tourists – tis the season.
the next day was set aside for versailles – we found lebanese food to take with us and after a guided tour (once again, because the regular line was hours long) we took our picnic to the gardens and bought little bottles of cold rose at the concession. there were wild cats there and we fed one our only meaty item, thinking of erika, who used to bring cat food with her on vacation for just such occasions.
our last night in paris – bittersweet and not as magical as the others, somehow, but it is always nice to be out, speaking french, meeting people, dancing.
the next day our train was after noon. we were shaken up by an accident that happened in front of our eyes: and older man on a sort of motor bike was hit by a car. though he didn’t have evident injuries, he seemed to be very hurt – the hit he took threw him onto the window of the car and the ambulence came in minutes.
the hotel let my leave a bag there so i could lighten my load for my planned trip to morocco after the next stage of our journey to nice. i bought a cheap backpack and made the switch, and we went to the gare du lyon to get our train to nice. skye was sorry we hadn’t planned to stay longer in paris, but our plans were already made, so on we went.
we lunched on pasta and risotto – train food there is pretty classy – and arrived in nice around 6pm.
the hotel was not in a great location, close to the train station, but it was easy to get to at least.
next installment, the cote d’azure 🙂
love and miss,