Paris, la ville d’amour, on V-Day

It’s amazing how your perception of a place can change over time. Perhaps the place itself is changing, or maybe new experiences that come with age have a way of altering the way you see the world. For me, Paris is a city that holds different meaning at different stages in life, from 2001 to 2007 to now.

Tomorrow evening we board a flight to Charles de Gaulle. I wonder what adventure and new experience awaits. Will this visit be the one that hooks me for good? Will I fall in love with the ambiance and cobblestone streets as far as the eye can see? Well, we shall see.

Love of Paris continues to grow

This jaunt to Paris has been a whirlwind 24 hours. Following an overnight flight from Dulles and a quick nap, my friend and I train our way into the city from Charles de Gaulle – the most confusing airport I’ve had to navigate. With anticipation, it sure feels good to be back in the EU.

Even in winter rain, a morning walk through the charming Montmartre neighborhood is impressive. Up the stairs to Sacré-Coeur, you may find the perfect place to reflect and quietly discuss spirituality. Through the mist, the hilltop offers a broad view of Paris.

We hop the Metro towards La Seine river, and for the first time I notice an abundance of PDA. Is all the public kissing a reflection of French culture or the fact that Paris is an inherently romantic city? Coincidence that it’s Valentine’s Day?

An afternoon of art and aliments

Musée d’Orsay itself as ornate as Musée du Louvre, but its gallery contents may be more awing. Monet’s Blue Water Lilies are soft and calming, and it’s meaningful to see the original Le Bassin d’Argenteuil. (A print hangs in my flat.)

After perusing D’Orsay and wandering the Louvre grounds, it’s refreshment time. A friend highly recommends Angelina where the hot chocolate tastes like a melted Hershey bar and handmade cream is the best you’ve ever had. Angelina offers a classy escape from the bustling Rue de Rivoli, and I’ll make a point to pay her a visit from now on.

 

Paris by night

Walking up the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe, look after each other – speeding motorists seem to be paying as much attention to the sites as we are! In the evening, the monuments are more striking than ever; they glow with warm light that contrasts with the white light seen around D.C. monuments.

 

Coming from a city where walking everywhere is normal, I’d say the best way to find unexpected treasures is by foot or bicycle. We wander off the beaten path in search of le dîner. Apparently the French celebrate Valentine’s Day, too – almost every establishment says they’re fully booked before we find a nice restaurant with availability and a unique menu. Frog legs in France? Yes, please!

The Paris way?

Perhaps it’s the way of Paris or perhaps it’s the company, but hours pass in the blink of an eye. It’s nearly 12:30 a.m. and the Metro stops running soon. We settle our bill and break into a jog towards the station. Three trains, two buses and a taxi later, we are sound asleep, dreaming of good things.

The day was too short, but we are ready for tomorrow’s adventure: Budapest, Hungary.

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