I arrived at the airport on a rainy Tuesday and took the train to Paris. From there, I had to take the metro and find my way to my central located hotel. Piece of cake.
The instructions were really useful and the line colors helped finding my destination.
My first memory of this journey was from the Metro stations inside and outside. I could hear music in the tunnels and for a moment I was afraid that my desire to explore Paris was so strong that I was imagining things. Later, I found out that the street musicians needed a license from the municipality and they actually had auditions before they were allowed to play at the most visited spots. That day, I was one of 4,1 million passengers that enjoyed an underground art and music experience.
When I checked in at the hotel, the weather had changed and the winter sun was shining. I started walking around and just couldn't stop. Every part of the city centre made me feel like a protagonist in a Woody Allen movie. It wasn't the Eiffel Tower or the Monmartre Quarter or even the Louvre Museum. It was the happiness on people's faces while they were taking selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was the groups of teenagers sitting at the stairs of Monmartre and organizing dance competitions. It was the curiosity of the Museum’s visitors when they were pushing each other to see what was hidden beneath the glass Pyramid of Louvre, as Dan Brown indicated in his “Da Vinci Code”.
In the evening, when the city turned the lights on, I found myself crossing the Bridge of Alexander III. A well-dressed French guy approached and asked me if I wanted to join him at the Opera. It was an innocent compliment of course but this was the exact moment that I felt that dreams could become reality. I politely refused and continued my lonely walk.
In one of the restaurants of Plas de la Concord, full of local residents from the neighborhood, I decided to order a set menu. The waiter kept looking at me. After some moments of silence he impatiently asked me: “Wine, Madame?” Of course, how did I forget? Wine runs in the veins of the French since the 6th century BC.
The next day begun with a French breakfast at the hotel: fresh baked croissants, fresh orange juice, cheese, ham, butter, marmalade and tones of coffee. That's it. No packaged food, nothing out of the country's daily life. For the smokers, the hotel back yard was transformed into a patio with stylish garden furniture. The smokers were not exiled in plastic boxes with holes but they had an opportunity to start their day in a beautiful environment enjoying their habit.
The hotel manager had informed me earlier that this was the period of the winter sales in Paris. It was a nice opportunity for me to have a look. This look left me with several new outfits that I bought with a discount of up to 80%. I am not ashamed to say that I also bought as many souvenirs as I could carry. The magic word “from Paris” made all my gift receivers back home happy.
I was lucky enough to visit Paris several times ever since. The essence of Paris, which really gets into your skin more quickly than any other place, is always there.
Article & Photos: Sofia Bournatzi