That's Me

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A wanderer. A bon vivant. A movie aficionado. En amour avec 'A'. These four remain constant. New interests develop every day. Latest being photography. And mastering the French language. Training for the marathon. And blogging.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

C'est l'été et Paris me manque




I am a self confessed francophile. I don’t care what people say (and especially A) - I am in love with France. Why, for a very brief period, I even had a crush on Sarkozy. Mid-life crisis, as A puts it. Perhaps. Otherwise, why would I spend two years, in my mid-thirties - trying to master the language. To no avail, because, the French speakers, without any fail, have always preferred speaking to me in English. I try and console myself by thinking that they need to brush up their English, too. I do take pride in the fact that I can understand French, if it is being spoken very slowly. Once in a while, I try and translate French movies for A. The fact that he prefers to watch French movies with the English subtitles on is a different story.

J'aime Paris. Cynics call it a city of cynics - I call it a city of no-nonsense people. If you are a Parisian, no tourner autour du pot for you. All my trips to Europe, I have tried to plan it such that we have at least a couple of days to spend in Paris. CDG is a nightmare, but I love the chaos. I love getting out of the plane, walking miles to take a bus to change terminals, going up and down and forward the long escalators and travelators, queuing up patiently for immigration clearance, fighting off fellow passengers to retrieve my luggage, reading the signs and finding the way to the RER B Line and proudly showing off my language skill while buying the tickets to Gare du Nord.

I love the tiny chambre d'hôtes we stay in and the warm croissants and the dark chocolate I have for breakfast every morning when I am in Paris. I love sitting in the petit cafe’ by the roadside, watching the world go by and sipping my rose’. I love the boulangeries where you get the most amazingly decadent, sweet, beautifully constructed, magnificent little pâtisserie that can make your heart cry out in joy. I hate their baguettes though - the only thing I hate about Paris.

I love the aimless long walk we always take from Louvre to Arc de Triomphe, through Champs-Élysées. I love the window dressings of the designer stores in Champs-Élysées and the sense of dressing of an average Parisian. I love taking the Metro and saying aloud the names of the stations with the announcer to get my pronunciation right. I love their quirky roadside art and their smart cars and Segways.

I love the evenings spent by the Seine, when a band strikes up some ridiculously romantic tune just for the pleasure of the lovers walking hand in hand. I love the lovers, sitting on the river bank, oblivious to the world around them, weaving their dreams together. I love the strain of accordion drifting through the air, catching me unaware with a familiar tune, whose lyrics I could never master. I love watching the sky turn from blue to orange to red, turning the world golden with it as the sun sets in the Seine

I love discovering the weird museums of Paris - from Catacombes de Paris and Musée Edith Piaf and Cinémathèque Française to Le Musée des Égouts de Paris (Museum of Sewer, which I plan to invade the next time I am there).

I love exploring the marchés - and mostly marchés aux puces, or flea markets, where I can pick up an owl or a trinket and polish up my bargaining skill in French. Be it St-Ouen de Clignancourt or Rue de Bretagne, if you can laugh at a joke and be polite, you may come out with a good bargain. Yes, the French homme, be he 8 or 80, can always make a woman feel special.

I love getting lost in the city and figuring my way out from one arrondissement to the other. I love the quirky Metro stations - Arts et Metier which looks like a submarine or Louvre-Rivoli station, with its mini museum of artworks or Abbesses station, with its glass canopy which is so 1800’s art nouveau. I love walking up to Sacre Coeur and catching some breathtaking views of the city, atop Montmartre. I love the ugly Tour Eiffel and how beautiful it looks when it is all lit up at night.

I love coming back to our chambre d'hôtes after a long aimless, itinerary free day and planning the next day, while soaking our weary feet in the bathtub. And then forgetting all about the plans the next day and again aimlessly walking around the city, discovering it as we go, in the midst of foliage, steeples, blue skies and cobblestones. Something new, something funny, something weird, something amazing - Paris never fails to keep me in awe. I love being a Parisian - even if it's for a few days. And everytime I leave Paris, I say au revoir (see you again) and not adieu (goodbye) because I know that I will be back sous le ciel de Paris, someday soon.

2 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful post! And of familiar streets and well-known sounds. You took me back there, and had me walking with you. I'm standing in King's Cross now, and tempted to walk over to St Pancras for the Eurostar. I'd be there in time for dinner :)

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