A few days in December in Paris.

Moliére – French playwright of comedies, in particular ‘The Misanthrope.’

Bon Nuit from Paris. For the past few years I have always tried to visit this city, this lady of lights in early December.  A special time, when the tourists thin, the Christmas scene unfurls and she appears, a little more naked, and more beautiful. The city of lovers, the city of lights, the city that has had a harsh time of late crazy people wanting to hurt, but for me, she remains the city of love.  And contrasts.

If you are planning to visit, be aware of these contrasts.  Global problems are in her midst.  This does not mean she does not remain enchanting, beguiling, beautiful.  This will not change.  From the time I arrive at Gard du Nord, I am in Paris romantic mode.  And I walk.  And I walk.  Yesterday I walked from the station to my hotel near the Luxembourg gardens – a considerable distance, but for me, Paris is the city of walking for true discovery. Stumble into streets, this is how you find the true nature of the city. I know the city well, but as I always advise my clients, be street smart.

The Winter Garden at the Palais-Royale

At the heart of it all, the greyness of winter mingles in water, in architecture, in cobbled streets.  Luxembourg gardens were almost desolate, yet this too, is a passion for me, to sit in the weak winter sun and tuck into the only baguette I allow myself on my trips.  You will spot me, the lady with the jambon and fromage baguette on a bench in the midst of statues and landscape. Like my customary beer I always have in Paris, at the end of the day, outside at a brasserie when the night comes early. I like traditions and Paris has many for me. Baguette, beer and hot chocolate at the Café de la Paix. 

 Cafe de la Paix

If you think you have ever experienced a true, hot lava of chocolate in its purist form, you would have been at the Café de la Paix. My mother brought me here, as her mother did her, and I my own children, so stopping for a moment in my day in this Belle Epoque delight is a family tradition. I am in the spirit of the ghosts of Marlene Dietrich, war heroes, politicians and writers and it  is humbling.

Another mandatory stop is Lindt chocolates near the Opera.  Christmas presents added.  Sadly, the multitude of homeless lined on the sidewalks are a tangible reminder of those who suffer in the winter. Who suffer. There are many here, often with sadder looking animals clinging to their masters.  This is our world now and in Paris I see them more than in London.  

Was meant to focus on my research of the churches I most love in Paris, but somehow got sidelined by the Christmas story.  For this I must wander on the Champs-Èlysées, Rue St. Honoré, along the Seine and of course, the big Department Stores of Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. 

Childlike wonder.  Mesmerising to this easily wonderlike child. 

At Christmas time, Paris is like this.  In the spring and summer I prefer to wander along the river and take in the blossoms around the Notre Dame and on the Isle St. Louis.  Meeting Monet at the Orangerie, going to Giverney and losing myself at the Pére LaChaise cemetery. 

So, this woman is travelling alone and in Paris. So easy to do.  I don’t tend to go out at night but before I retire to my hotel or apartment, always a little stop for that quiet beer and taking in the scene of those who call Paris home.  Young exuberant people who chat away in French, single women stopping by before going home, tourists with maps spread out on tables and practising my terrible French on sweet waiters who indulge my whim.

You can travel to Paris on your own.  Find the peace, indulge in her history, live her books, art, culture and daily life with great satisfaction. Paris is for lovers, lovers of romance, of life and of beauty.  

When I sit on that bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg with all that life has dealt me, eating that one allowed baguette, I know that I am in the Paris that embraces, the Hemingway that entices, the lights that flicker, the river of dreams and history, the city that allows for the Renaissance of all.

More than anything she is the city of love – and I am in love.

And I shall be back soon x