My first trip to Paris was a blur of the Eiffel Tower the seine, the Notre Dame and the pressure to soak in everything Parisian. This time when K and I planned the trip we agreed we needed to walk the city. Anne and Christophe were traveling and would only be available briefly on Saturday but Julian was around with Nuria who we hadn’t met yet.
Getting to Paris was easy with the Eurostar, as always. Although a group of noisy American tourists played true to stereotypes by being annoyingly loud through the journey, rendering any introspection fruitless, managed to get to the hotel easily enough. Post Pizza and Coke which K had insightfully organized for my arrival, we set off to meet Julian.
Julian and the lovely Nuria made sure that both our evenings in Paris were well spent. From little wine bars cum bookshops, to the Buddha Bar, and from those small homely restaurants with great food which only locals know about, to more trendy bars – you know the kind - nobody knows why their trendy, but everybody goes there, anyway.
On Saturday we managed to spend a few hours at the Musee De Orsay and on Sunday, the Picasso Museum. The Hotel Sale, is somewhat less well maintained than a lot of other museums, but Picasso’s work shines through clearly. The Musee De Orsay of course is the shrine of Impressionism and worth going back to, someday.
In addition, we walked for hours really taking the city in. Montmartre, the painters square and the Sacre Coeur. From the Rue De Rome to the Musee De Orsay and from Montmartre down to the Moulin Rouge, and all the way back to Gare Du Nord to get back on the train. Being the loneliest weekend in Paris in the whole year, it was nice to walk the empty streets, unfettered by city bustle. Lunching on the artists square, watching people scurry from the wrath of a rogue rain cloud which ambushed the afternoon briefly, reading the Sunday times and drinking coffee – life could be worse, you now.
One of the highlights worth mentioning, was the photo galleries on Jardin Du Luxembourg, where the larger than life pictures from the Reporters Sans Frontiers takes your breath away. Themed around war and conflict, always the source of the most desolate and disturbing visuals, it was hard to forget, long after we’d been. I noted the names of some of the photographers, but this link will list all of them, in case you’re interested. Also worth it is the website of the Reporters Sans Frontiers itself.
Reporters Sans Frontiers http://www.rsf.org/
Tom Stoddart http://www.tomstoddart.com/
James Nachtwey http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/
Ami Vitale http://www.amivitale.com/main.html
Anne and Christophe have bought a new house and all the work is in progress and Julian is moving to Barcelona for a job. Nuria is lovely and its wonderful to have friends in Barcelona.
Paris is like a lovely woman. Older, but still gorgeous. Alluring, a bit mysterious. May be her best days behind her, but still proud and aristocratic. Sitting on the cafes where Sartre and his friends sat and pondered life, I asked K – what is life? What’s beauty? What’s truth? What’s reality? What is time? She looked at me strangely and ordered more coffee.
I learnt to pronounce Gare Du Nord, but still can’t get the right sound for Arc De Triomphe. I like Paris more now, having sat in its cafés and watched its world go by.