To Paris- with Love

The term “gay paree” comes from the original meaning of the word “gai” in French “happy” or “cheerful.” Thanks to artistic and social movements in fin-de-siecle (turn of the century) Paris, the city became world-famous for social, artistic and sexual excess.

Cities, love them or hate them they are all so different, as I learned during a spring trip to ” Le Gai Paree”.

My expectations were limited and included of course the famous tower and museums but to be perfectly honest, Paris was never at the top of my list for places to visit. In my mind I essentially envisioned the Eiffel tower as a steel structure plunked in the centre of the city and swarming with tourists, surrounded by the typical street cafe’s where you can watch the world go by.  I was so wrong and my new love for this wonderful European city will be captured in a  flattering and emotional review.

My visit was sparked by  visiting  my  brother who was vacationing from the states. This was a long-awaited one-to-one period of quality time with big bro, which hadn’t occurred between us since I was about 8!  He booked a quaint little apartment near the Bastille area, which suited us and housed many local trinkets inside from the owner who lovingly decorated it, plus a balcony to enjoy a glass of wine and of course  local cheese!  Nothing too fancy, just comfort and basic necessities.

Our first day out was visiting Notre Dame and that first day became so much more, that my feet are still recovering. (more on the power of Notre Dame in a moment) Who could resist 80 degree weather and the new spring  blossoms in their amazing Tuileries?! I imagined myself basking in the sun during lunch hour, just like the locals…I was jealous of this luxury and my hope is that they don’t take it for granted. There are gardens everywhere and provide a much-needed rest when exploring.

From the moment we walked out of our apartment door, it was love at first site for me and I was on a mission to explore and inhale every nook and cranny of this friendly and beautiful city. (as suggested by a friend  and writer  who  adores France) We couldn’t resist a coffee on the way to our next destination from a cafe called “Esmerelda” could we?

Walking along the Seine river in the sunshine and watching locals enjoy time at a leisurely pace was unusual but fabulous! Cities are supposed to be fast paced, but the beauty and feeling of love in spring was magnetic. Street artists galore with memorabilia,delicately painted landscapes  and a friendly “bonjour.”  Next stop, the famous “Louvre” Tuileries and people watching followed by Pont De Le Arts and Pont De Le Concorde (an adult playground of sorts along the river Seine pathway)  Ping Pong anyone? Day one was a full one and it didn’t stop here!  Eiffel tower……calling all tourists….. it’s the big one now! Steel towered structure with great fame… not at the top of my list but WOW.. I never expected to see what I saw..(am I teetering?) sorry couldn’t resist.

The Tower is surrounded by a lovely landscaped park with perfectly placed wooden benches that ask to be sat on.. small gardens appear in a corner near the tower, which by the way has a small pond underneath it!  Locals take advantage of this outdoor space by jogging, cycling or just reading a book under a leafy tree.

Under the Eiffel

The lights, the language,  inspiring art, the happy gatherings with picnics and wine along the Seine, lovers celebrating their marriage on the bridges… all of this made my heart and soul swell with joy.

My brother used his french daily and locals were appreciative, patient and very friendly. Before  emigrating  to the UK, I never imagined that I would visit so many wonderful places and my father  would  be very happy knowing that I was enjoying exploring the world.

In fact, he was there with me during my second visit to Notre Dame. I’m not a religious person, but the beauty and peace as I stood inside admiring the sun gazing through arches of stained glass was awe-inspiring.  As I started to follow my brother whilst he was capturing this beauty on film, I walked by a display of candles that you would typically light and say a prayer or remember a loved one. I kept walking, but something pulled me back… I thought of my father and stood there for a moment and decided to choose a candle just for him. I lit the candle and thought to myself, “Dad, I will take you with me on my travels from here on in and this one is for you and I love and miss you.”  I placed his candle in the centre, because anyone that knew my Dad knew that he loved being the centre of attention, especially in the later years.

So there you have it, Paris has the power to bring out love in many forms…beauty, art, lovers and unconditional love found with family and memories.

Thanks for reading

With love,

Hands-on

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