There is no special time to visit Paris. Every time is special – in Spring, Summer, Autumn and I have a particular love for Paris in the winter. Times I go for a few days, and times, such as last week, for the day. My devotion to Paris is fixéd and unwavering.
And I do love the Eurostar. Love the gentle, elegant way of travel under the sea. So, it was up and ready for the taxi at 4.30 am to St. Pancras. London, still dark, so lovely in the quiet drive, the view from Waterloo Bridge, already magical and they day had barely begun.
In Spring, there are some cherry trees beside the Notre Dame that I head for first, for they never fail to take my breath away. Children play in the sandpit, oblivious to the sight through the flowers, the history, the Gargolyes looming towards the Seine. It is a cloudless sky, the wind is crisp and the blossoms tutu pink and dancing.
I am not a tourist anymore, having been here so many times, so rather than the million photo opportunities of the cathedral and waiting in line to enter, I simply sit for a while and watch the blossoms here. Today was no different.
When one only has a few hours in Paris, like I did, choosing your route is important. Walking is the way to go, for it is too lovely to spend time underground. I chose to meander along the lesser known streets to make my way to the Le Jardin du Luxembourg, a favourite part of my Paris. Through the streets surrounding the Sorbonne, past Shakespeare and Company, and up into the park, where the tulips were hanging onto their last petals in the breeze. If the cherry blossoms were delicate shades of pink, the tulips were vivid hues of cerise, peach and coral, dark burgundy and deep, velvet reds.
If time allowed, another visit to the museum, but it was onward, to church. The churches in Paris know me well: I breathe in their majesty and love the silence, the reverence of walking about, tippy toe, for the echoes are strong. There are a few favourites, and today it was to Saint-Sulpice to light my candles. Found another on the way, so those I love were burning brightly in my heart on my beautiful walk.
Love the way the light filters through the cracks onto the chairs, the same chairs in all the churches – little havens from the world outside. Faith still lives there, and in particular during Easter. Another reason I love Saint-Sulpice so much is Eugene Delacroix – his murals, painted between 1855 and 1862 in The Chapel of the Angels, are exquisite. Who can but not be in awe of ‘Jacob wrestling with the Angel’ when one can feel the torment and anguish of man’s struggle with God. Art is meant to be evocative, to stir response. ‘ “In truth, painting taunts and torments me in a thousand ways, like the most demanding of mistresses,” as he confided in his journal on January 1, 1861.
Just outside the Saint-Sulpice, is a great little bistro/café where I choose to sit and watch the fountain, the church and all the passers-by. Don’t look for super food salads or main meals of the day here, it’s baguettes or sandwiches with the famous Poilané bread. Just Monsieur Croque and me. Heavenly.
Time to go. I know a little Ladurée shop few tourists know along the way. There are a few items I would rather buy in Paris, for they are Paris, and pure delight in choosing my six flavours, which include Pistachio, Noisette, Citron, Rose, Morello cherry and Pistachio again. Also stop at Caudalie to stock up before a quick stop to the shops below the Louvre. The Louvre is not somewhere you want to be over Easter, with hoards of school children and throngs of tourists, so I veer to the right to say ‘hello’ to the girls looking down on the scene. The Louvre is best seen in the Winter, as she opens.
They may be a little tattered, like me in Silver Street, but I love them. Earned my respect.
Once final browse through Delfonics to drool over the stationery and it’s back to the Gare Du Nord for my trip back to London. It has been a day of beauty, of culture, a day of dreaming and feeling romantic, in great company and I cannot wait to do it again.
À bientôt xxx
Image of Wisteria, Elle.