Oh where did we leave off? I was waiting to fly to France wasn’t I?
No one forgets their first time. With cooling breezes, and moonlight shining brightly, the monolithic structure before you gleams majestically. You pause and wonder- what if anything, did you ever see before that could compare? You smile instinctively and rush towards the wondrous monolith paying homage to man’s architectural spirit and fascination with metal.
I remember clearly my first view of the Eiffel Tower. What is so fascinating is that this revered artistic icon was once denounced by the brilliant artists of Paris. Angry letters penned furiously from the tables of Left Bank cafes beseeched the French Government to prevent the “monstrosity” of the Eiffel Tower from being erected. In fact, artist Guy de Maupassant had hated it so much that he ate lunch in the Eiffel’s 2nd floor restaurant only to be able to escape its view while eating.
Many years have passed since I was that young girl of 15 striking out to see the world. I’ve come across many other beautiful buildings displaying the grandeur that clings to great creations of architectural genius. But nothing ever compares to a stroll along the Left Bank, circling around the tiny bridges and grandiose museums dotting the Left Bank until finally the beautiful Eiffel Tower comes into view. Blessed with many a trip to Paris in the years that followed, a few weeks ago I found myself once again traversing the Rive Gauche on a crisp October day. Thinking silently that I was far too established a visitor to Paris to care about the “tourist” trap of the Eiffel Tower, I instead crossed the Seine to take a leisurely stroll deep in self introspection through the Jardin des Tuileries. I paused to sit in a bright green lawn chair amongst Parisians sharing coffee and chit chat with friends over a stolen moment from their days. The splaying fountain in the center cooled the effect of the shimmering sun on the metallic chairs circling the fountain. And I, there, deep in my own reflection was suddenly jostled by the sight of the Eiffel Tower peaking through trees, sun, and the giant Obelisk in the Place de La Concorde. Before I knew it, my feet were walking, and soon I stood in front of the Obelisk and was once again, just a 15 year old girl struck with the beauty of black wrought iron against sunshine and blue skies. I suppose it goes to show, that beauty, is tireless. We can often believe ourselves to have grown far too jaded to appreciate the appeals of our youth, but true beauty is effortless and timeless.
In deep discussions with friends of kindred wanderlust spirit, I have often found we share something in common. Every wandering world citizen has certain pockets of serenity across the world. A grandmother’s garden under the shade of a mango tree reminiscent of childhood summers, or perhaps the stone steps of an ancient basilica. From my first visit to Paris to this day, the Basilica Sacré Cœur that stands high atop Paris is a place of deep reflection for me. On every journey whether alone or with friends, I steal a few precious moments to wander towards its steps. Perched high on a hill top, it too seems to stand in silent reverie of a city so beautiful that words and history have struggled to describe it. Some things just have to be experienced. For this reason, I struggle to think of even one instance, where in my hyper photographic, overly “instragrammed” life I have even once thought to photograph it. So too one night a few weeks ago I stole away from a wonderful meal with friends to seek my own constitution upon that beautiful hill top. Turning my phone off, I sat on a step in the center and stared off into a star dusted Parisian night. What journeys and what paths a human canvasses can rarely be summarized. But for some reason, that night on that hill, despite being utterly alone, my heart was full. Full of all the people I hold dear. Full of their love, their support, their smiling faces reaching out across the expanses of time and distance to touch my stoic heart in a simple gesture of affection. And it was enough. Enough to be able to realize that even while traveling this earth alone, a nomad through and through, I would never ever be truly alone.
Paris is a Foodie Paradise; See below some of my favorite places J
Virage Lepic – Montmartre – Paris – Eponymous of the Jazz Era of Paris that gave rise to literary heavy hitters such as Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, this Montmartre bistro is family run from generation to generation. Its simple delights are in waiting for a table so close to other patrons, you nearly always walk out with a new friend.
Colorova Pâtisserie – Montparnasse – Paris – This colorful and simple café makes the best cappuccino I have had outside of Roma. Its tiny bite sized pastries are a guilt free way to enjoy traditional Parisian dessert fare.
Café Le Petit Pont – Saint-Michel/Odéon – Paris – I struggle with myself to understand why this 24/7 café sitting just across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral is such a favorite place of mine. Yet time and time again, I find myself bringing friend after friend to try the traditionally served frog legs, or sing a song with the friendly owner. All while under the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral? Don’t mind if I do.
‘Love Locks’ on the Pont Des Arts Bridge– Although I am by no means a romantic, I still find myself smiling at the displays of true love that are tied to this bridge. A short stroll from Notre Dame, on a recent midnight I found myself with friends reading inscriptions on each of the locks. Admiring the commitment of lovers to one another – they say one who inscribes their name and throws the key into the Seine will never lose their lover’s affections; I found myself breaking into dance. Spontaneous unadulterated joy, that true love still exists in our cynical, overly analytical lives. And perhaps, in this realist’s heart, a brief glimmer that one day I too may return with a soul mate with whom to throw a key into the river.
Frenchie Restaurant – Tacky as the name is, that’s how charming the interior of this cozy wine bar is. I am a huge fan of the panna cotta which is a perfect balance of sweet and smooth.