What a wonderful city Paris is! Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I have just returned from a weekend break there to celebrate LSW’s birthday. I love cities but Paris is particularly special, especially when the sun is shining as it did for us. The streets bustle around the spill-overs from the brasseries, bistros and cafes, the historic architecture is casually lovely and the newer buildings are often intriguing. The shiny thread of the Seine is more heavily used than the Thames in London and its banks and bridges provide tremendous views.
LSW and I have been to Paris a few times during the decades of our relationship. We steered away from the crowds this time and saw some of the lesser known areas of Paris. We spent some time walking around graffiti strewn Butte De Calles – just south from our compact, clean, friendly hotel – and then a few hours strolling up the Canal St Martin/Bassin De Villette/Canal De L’Ourcq in the north east. We also walked the Viaduct Des Artes out from the Bastille to the Peripherique to the east. All these walks gave us an unusual and fascinating perspective of the underside of Paris that we hadn’t seen before.
I also visited one of the big cemeteries (Pére Lachaise) which was a wonderfully shady break from the sun and heat. Cemeteries are another thing the countries on the continent do well.
Both LSW and I (together and separately) saw wonderfully cluttered bookshops, browsed unreformed hardware stores and visited stylish clothes shops.
We also visited the Sunday street markets. We have been trying to sell our stuff in car boot and table top sales recently. Having seen the scale and popularity of the Sunday flea markets in the Parisian squares and along several main streets, we joked that we should have taken a car load of stuff over to Paris to sell it there. We generally avoided the crowds but short spells in the flea and food markets were invigorating.
Of course, we felt obliged to see some of the iconic sights of Paris including the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin Du Luxembourg, Basilica du Sacre Coeur, and the Jardin Des Plantes; all looking splendid in the weather we were blessed with.
We also squeezed in some arty culture by visiting the Palais de Tokyo and the Atelier Brancusi. The former had two wonderful rooms filled mainly with Delaunay and Dufy paintings. The latter was a reconstruction of Brancusi’s studios and was brilliantly done. Both were free, neither were crowded and neither took long to absorb; perfect!
In between these 25,000 step days, the art and the taking in of the views, we spent a lot of time chilling in bars and cafes – well not chilling because it was too warm for that, but relaxing thoroughly. We ate simply. My favourite meal – which I had often enough to become a temporary expert in the subtle variations on offer – was Croque Madame (Croque Monsuieur with an egg on top). We did eat in a proper restaurant once but most of our expenditure was on wine drunk slowly but steadily while watching the world go past our favourite bars. Paris does the street bars and café scene so well at every turn.
Retirement seems to have calmed my concern that if I’m not on my way to something I’m not doing enough with my holiday; I can just sit and chat now. Our trip was very relaxing but we also ‘did’ a lot. My only worry is that excellent weather we have had on recent holidays is due to balance out on our next one in Porto in July (I have to worry about something).
First, this coming week will be dominated by a visit to England by our Youngest Son (YS). He is over from Australia for a few days on his way to an exciting-sounding video job at Croatia Yacht Week. I might investigate whether I can be his bag-carrier. I suspect he will be looking for someone stronger and more good looking and so will just make do with the treat of seeing him for the first time since New Year.