Saturday, July 09, 2005

Part 11: Enchante

7:10pm local time, Mary's Hotel, Le Marais

So after the shaky start here in Paris (hrm, I think every major city I've been to has involved some kind of shaky start actually), I soon came to understand why this city is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world. There was a gentle rain and a cool breeze which, though unusual in the middle of a European winter, played into my dream of experiencing Paris in the rain.

On my first evening I was fortunate to meet a very handsome engineer from Munich, Gunther, who took me to dinner at an exey restaurant overlooking the Seine and with the Eiffel Tower bursting into a light show orgy on the hour. Although Gunther had to return to Germany and (of course) his boyf the next day (I mean, do I have "home-wrecking whore" tattoed on my forehead or what?), he was wonderful company for the first night.

The next day was spent covering all the Paris standards - Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Place de la Bastille, Champs-Elysees, Les Jardins and Le Palais de Luxembourg (both magnificent), as well as ascending the Eiffel Tower and L'Arc de Triomph for some spectacular panoramas. In between all this I minced around Le Marais district with all the other homos for good measure.

Today, I supplemented yesterday's visit to the Picasso museum with ones to Le Louvre and Musee d'Orsay. It was a thrill, up there with visits to those museums in Florence, to see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Whistler's Mother etc along with the masterpieces of the Impressionists, although to be honest I think I and my feet could do with a break from museums and galleries.

So the French are nowhere near as unpleasant as I anticipated. I am under no delusions that I speak French very badly, but I make the effort where I can and have not suffered too many sniggers or dirty glares for it. As with the Spaniards and the Italians, all they seem to want is not for you to automatically speak in English or ask if they do so, which seems fair enough to me.

Having said this, my second night out in Paris and the first on my own was a little disappointing. I had a fantastic dinner at a friendly, attitude-free cafe called Equinox, but found the bars afterwards to be too uncomfortably reminiscent of Sydney bars, in either extreme of unfortunate-looking people and bad background music, or the so so beatuiful it hurts so don't look the fuck at us filthy urchin sort of crowd. Not really being able to communicate with anybody only compounds the sense of isolation. I'm hoping tonight will be a little better.

Although I've enjoyed being on my own again, Paris at times has felt a little lonely. It's very much a city you want to be lucky enough to share with somebody special (ideally one who'll actually return home with you). It is nice, however, not to have to co-ordinate with anybody else's schedule or be constantly thinking of other people.

Be warned - I think Paris might be more expensive even than London, despite being a Euro country. 10 Euros yersterday for 2 cold criossants and 2 coffees? Honestly.

I wish I had an extra day to take in the Catacombes, Rodin Museum and Montmarte - I guess these are all excuses to come back here again, as is the fact that Paris is absolutely gorgeous. In fact for me Paris surpasses Barcelona for aesthetic pleasure. I can't wait to get back here.


Post a Comment

<< Home