Back To Business…

Howdy stranger.

Yes, it’s been a while between posts but I’ve been traipsing around Paris.

And to be honest I haven’t felt like blogging, instead I have been almost selfishly enjoying myself far too much to want to sit at the computer. I did Instagram like mad, hard not to in the beautiful City Of Light. And I did end up taking an insane amount of photos, most of them on the one day I bothered getting the camera out of the suitcase. The rest were quickly snapped on my phone when I just couldn’t resist trying to capture some of the magic.

Christmas seems to be here already, catching me by surprise. One minute it’s November and I’m getting ready to go away, the next everywhere I look I see holly and fairy lights. Everyone seems to have their tree up and house decorated, and according to my Instagram feed everyone has been busy baking. So, faced with the back breaking prospect of getting my monster tree assembled and decorated I decided to sit down and write a blog post instead.

As you do.

As for Paris, I don’t know if my memory failed me or if it has in fact changed, but the whole city was breathtaking. GORGEOUS. Most of the buildings have either already been cleaned or are in the process, with all that pale stonework now giving an added sparkle to everything. The city is all decked out for the festive season, from every street to store to restaurant to bistro to tree. It is stunning. We stayed in a pretty little area in the sixth arrondissement, rich with almost bare trees shedding their remaining golden leaves. The Notre Dame Cathedral was only a two minute walk away, as was the bustling Boulevard Saint-Germain.

We did revisit some of the tourist musts: the Arc De Triomphe, Montmartre and The Sacre Coeur, The Champs Elysees, and of course the Eiffel Tower. Although, standing in the queue to go up the tower I suddenly developed a fear of heights, and decided the day would be better spent anywhere rather than in the middle of that jam-packed claustrophobic queue. Call it a panic attack, but something about the hordes of people EVERYWHERE, and the enormity of the steel soaring overhead just freaked me out. We had gone up the last time we were there, and on this particular day, without even the camera, I just couldn’t be assed with the LONG wait to get up there. Instead we crossed the river, got some beautiful photos on the phone, and continued walking.

We also estimated that by walking continuously from about 9.30 every morning until late at night, stopping a couple of times for a beverage or a meal, we were racking up some serious miles. Even with all the baguettes, Bordeaux, and pastries {not to mention cheese}, we actually managed to return home a kilo or two lighter. Which solves the mystery of how French women, and Parisians in particular, stay slim. Lots of walking, and LOTS of steps at every Metro station. There are also people on bicycles everywhere you look, and public bicycles available to use all over the city. A big lunch rather than dinner also seems to be the norm, which all makes a lot of sense but is sadly not feasible for us.

We also re-traced our former steps in honour of Jim Morrison, but it was just not the same. Back in ’93 the scene at his grave was like a party. A young crowd followed the graffiti to his final resting place, where we gathered to drink, smoke, and listen to music as our way of remembering the Lizard King. Twenty years later the graffiti has disappeared, the area around his grave has been barricaded, and there were only a few people there having a look. Older people who didn’t seem too impressed by or interested in what they saw. One even commented, “well his music sure was better than his grave”. Um, okay. Because he had such a large say in how his grave looks and would have even cared.

The biggest change this time round though, was that both my Husband and I were looking forward to the food far more than last time. There was to be no fast food this time around. We went for all the classics: escargot, frogs legs, onion soup, beef bourguignon, duck breast, and choucroute. There was also cheese, wine, and more bread and croissants than you could imagine. All of which makes me pity the French person who one day goes to live in a country where they are faced with sliced white bread and plastic cheese slices. I was very happy to note only one KFC, a couple of Subway’s, and a few McDonald’s in the whole city. At lunch time all the bistros, brasseries, and restaurants are full as people tuck into a delicious home style meal. The fast food places are nowhere near as busy.

Apart from food we also spent a fair amount of time wandering around museums and cemeteries. The Musee D’Orsay was an absolute thrill as I have long loved the Impressionist masters, and in this one place they are chock a block. The museum itself is also a work of art, and best of all, it’s do-able in a day, unlike the majestic and demanding Louvre. Cemeteries are also usually beautiful places, and a peaceful place to spent an hour or two. There are so many stories told on tombstones.

I was also determined to locate the Avenue Montaigne, knowing only that it was where fashion reigns supreme. Once there I was blown away by the beauty of that one street, with the door to door domains of the fashion gods, gleaming cream buildings, impeccable doormen and sales staff with their smiling bonjour, and after starting at the Champs Élysées, discovering that at the other end the road comes out at the Eiffel Tower. Seriously, how much more head spinningly GORGEOUS can one street get? I had a definite pinch me moment as I browsed Christian Dior’s flagship store, admiring what is less a store and more a luxurious salon.

As for the old cliche about rude French people, I never saw it in ’93 and I never saw or experienced it this time either. Rather, I have to say that what I saw were far more courtesies and manners than I usually see here in Sydney. What stood out most was that each and every single time we entered any store, restaurant, bar, or place of business we were unfailingly greeted with bonjour Madame, bonjour Monsieur. To be followed with au revoir, merci, as we exited. Every single time. Everywhere. And which I loved. Being acknowledged and greeted in such a way, even when it was clear we were only going to browse, is the kind of customer service I rarely see here. I dare say that the staff at Dior and Chanel safely assumed that the woman in jeans and biker boots was unlikely to buy even the smallest item, but they were all smiles and very warm in their greetings nonetheless.

I lost count of how many times I said, “it’s just so CIVILISED!”. Or how many times my head spun this way and that as I could only describe something, yet again, as cute or gorgeous. And when it came to the sometimes steep prices, my default reasoning was, “but look where we ARE!”. I was determined to treat myself to something special in The Galeries Lafayette, and I now have a GORGEOUS bag to remember my trip by. Finding gifts for the kids was tricky. Two were hoping for designer duds, and the other two didn’t care. I think they’re all pretty happy. I missed my Mister Five like crazy, and couldn’t wait to have his little arms around my neck. I think we have been glued together since I got back.

But easily the worst part of going away is that three days after you get home you have to stop and think if it even happened at all, or if it was just a dream.

Since I sat down to write this in order to avoid that back breaking tree, I have managed to get some actual work done, made lunch for my little man and I, served up homemade pizza’s for dinner {bases included}, cleaned up, ducked up to the shops, and dealt with a mobile phone after it had a glass of strawberry milk spilled on it. And yes, Mister Five and I even managed to get the tree up and decorated. He is always the best little elf, stays until the job is done, and does more than his fair share. He also found time to play outside, tell tall tales with his Grandfather, and even somehow got his butt bitten by an ant.

In other words, life is well and truly back to normal.

Till next time,

Ana.

 

  1. Breath taking photos of the city. Your recreated honeymoon photograph is beautiful-glowing & happy. For somebody like me who’s own trip to Paris is probably an entire decade away this is really “something” to read and I feel like I’m getting at least a sliver of the magic in that city.

    And your Christmas tree? It’s the perfect display tree from a holiday magazine except inviting and real-why are you freaking Martha Stewart?? You’re so talented with this stuff.

    PS. I’m also scared of heights. I couldn’t have done the tower but would’ve tried.

    Reply

    1. Thanks on the photos. There are some really good ones from inside the Notre Dame when I couldn’t use a flash so had to trust my shaky manual settings, and they are perfect.

      Definitely no Martha, its just so bloody big that it looks impressive no matter what. Mostly lots of very old, very cheap plastic decorations.

      And get yourself to Paris, asap.

      Reply

  2. Beautiful. Love the photos – and the tree 🙂 xoxooxox

    Reply

    1. Thanks Mary. I had to rely on manual mode for indoor shots with no flash, and I am happy to say they turned out really good. Always trying to learn more about good photo taking, never enough time. xxx

      Reply

      1. Well done!!!! Great work. Xxxxxx

        Reply

  3. How fantastic was that trip? And those photos and that cheese. I’m so glad you enjoyed yourselves, and soaked it all in but in a different way. A very special trip indeed. And I hear you about life back to normal. And that is a great tree – did he use a ladder? EM

    Reply

    1. It was fantastic. And the food was a definite highlight, lol. We didn’t use a ladder, he did climb on a chair a few times but mostly I did the higher bits.

      Btw, I still love reading your blog but never get the comment box in the wordpress app reader. So I may be quiet but I’m still there! xxx

      Reply

  4. Wow, just beautiful pics! *sigh* Maybe one day…

    Reply

    1. Thanks Valerie, it was pretty special. Made more so by the time of year.

      Reply

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