A Five Day Conversation With Paris — Day 1

The best conversations are superbly intimate. Surprising, these conversations may require few words to be meaningful; A touch between lovers, an introspective thought, the taste of dessert. Travelling for me is an intimate conversation wherein I introduce myself to an unfamiliar place. I love to learn a place’s quirks and fancies, it’s famed characteristics as well as it’s secrets. As with any first conversation, there is some back and forth. Some awkward silences as you try to pair your interests and find common ground. The following are exerts from my journal recounting the first day I had the pleasure of meeting Paris.

Perhaps the most illustrious of destinations, Paris has a way of being both flirtatious and aloof.

I always manage to forget that necessary part of travelling, no matter how glamorous or exotic the destination, where travellers must sit and wait. At their gate, to arrive, to exit, to pass through customs, to wait for transit to the city — in suspense of when the real vacation begins. These steps are the inevitable transition into your vacation, and it never truly feels the vacation has begun until you are liberated of your luggage and out the door with a map and camera in tow.

Paris street — looking up

Step 1 — Situate. We exited the RER B line at Luxembourg Station. Streets were muted and fading in neutral tones. This hazy pallet adds to the sense of surrealism one feels in the iconic city of Paris. In a short walk we made our way to the small Air BNB apartment we were renting. A large, green, double door, heavy and beveled, leads to our “home” for the next five days. After a quick refresh, we set to walking, beginning with the Luxembourg Gardens, which were packed with Sunday people.

Step 2 — Wander. We entered the massive and tidy green space where every available place was dotted with sunbathers and picnickers. Shirtless men and bikinied women basked in the sun, while children ran about in the grass. A large, round fountain was sprinkled with colourful sail boats. The children raced around it’s edge with long rods, fishing the boats into their control before pushing them across the water again. Couples and individuals, young and old, sat in the bistro-style chairs surrounding the fountain and along the path’s edge to read or chat, or simply soak in the sun which graced the Parisian sky.

I have a feeling it takes a few days for Paris to warm up to newcomers. Like those women reclined with their faces to the sun, I have the impression one needs to soak-in Paris and that over the next few days I will come to know it’s heartbeat simply by joining in with it’s rhythm.
Lovers at Le Pont des Arts
Locks of love

Step 3— Romance. After some lovely crepes at Bollée — an eight table index card in the Rolodex of narrow streets above the gardens — we walked across Le Pont Neuf and then along the north side of the Seine. Very soon we saw Le Pont des Arts, which glitters like gold sequins as the thousands of locks left by decades of lovers catch the light of the afternoon sun.

These locks mark a moment when love was declared to last forever. And this is something unmistakably beautiful.
Café in Montmartre

Step 4— Repose. Soon we grew tired and found relief at Le Rostand Café. As is so quintessentially Parisian, we took a sidewalk facing table, and simply… watched. So many kinds of people. We drank rosé and ate olives and finely sliced meats, beginning to feel revived. A toffee coloured cat sat sans pretension on a café table behind us, as though he also was very interested in the many different kinds of people walking by.

This time of sitting — soaking in Paris — marked the beginning of our vacation for me. What followed was easy strolling through the streets north of our Paris home. Already we had stomachs set on a Croissanterie and a Pizzeria near by.

The Paris landscape from Notre Dame de Paris
I had the distinct feeling of having respectfully greeted Paris. The simple “Bonjour” which opens all French conversation.

Now we could get to know one another better. I’d been invited to have a five day conversation with the City of Lights.

Coming soon: Montmartre in “A Five Day conversation with Paris — Day 2”