Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Paris, Lovelier with Someone You Love Who Loves You, Too

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Paris, Lovelier with Someone You Love Who Loves You, Too


I had been to Paris a long time ago. It was a business trip. I was alone. Everything I did was perfunctory.  And it was understandable. At the time, I had no love in my life, long been separated from my husband who had replaced me with a younger woman. I had been father and mother to my three children for many years until I migrated to America and met Bill. So when he told me he had not been to the City of Love, I was excited to show it to him. After celebrating our tenth anniversary in August this year, we included it on our month-long October vacation in Europe.

Arc de Triomphe
Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe

We started our week with a memorable eggs benedict breakfast, Parisian-style, and chaud chocolat at the landmark Laduree on the Champs-Elysees. My friend Yogi from our University of the Philippines Corps of Sponsor days met us there. She even gifted us with those famous French macaroons people line up for at this legendary French luxury bakery and sweets maker. Yogi, a crowned Binibining Pilipinas-International, still radiates beauty, especially because she makes Paris her home for six months a year. After breakfast, she took our photo at the nearby Arc de Triomphe, copied the world over as a symbol of military success (even if it was not). 

Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur 

Then she took us to Montmartre, the Hill of Martyrs, with a foggy, mysterious, and romantic view of the city. At the top of the hill stands the gleaming Sacre Coeur, both a political and cultural monument. It was built as a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871. After all, Montmartre has been known as the city’s most rebellious neighborhood. The Cathedral was publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.

Down Montmartre

Walking down the hill, she showed us the Artist’s Village, where painters were busy having breakfast, painting some scenes of gay Pareee, and selling their finished canvasses. At the foot of the hill, we wandered into the Moulin Rouge, the famous arisian cabaret, another world model for eventful nightlife. Hopping into the Metro once again, our last stop was at the Galleries Lafayette, the mammoth luxury department store whose domed roof and high floors are richly decorated and whose rooftop gave us our first view of the Eiffel Tower. Before parting, we had snacks at the Galleries’ Food Court.

Moulin Rouge

The Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

Yogi taught us how to navigate the Metro and from that first day on, we ventured on our own. We spent a wonderful afternoon around the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars, constructed as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. It has become one of the most recognizable structures in the world and the most-visited paid monument with more than 7 million people a year ascending it. The ticket to the summit was sold out and Bill convinced me to just walk around the 324-foot landmark from the Trocadero to the Peace Wall. Our photos will show you how much we loved this lovely afternoon, walking hand in hand and stopping for the Eiffel’s different angles for romantic poses to remember our union by.

The Louvre

The next morning was a visit to the Museum de Louvre which was originally built as the Louvre Castle in the late 12th to the 13th century under Philip II. When Louis X!V built the Palace of Versailles in the 17th century, he transferred the royal household there and the Louvre became the depository of the nation’s masterpieces. It would have been a massive undertaking to tour this, the world's largest art museum, and we opted to romanticize about the grounds and its distinctive modern entrance and its fountains instead. That in itself took so much time that we had to have a French brunch at a Brasserie in front of the Louvre immediately after.
Notre Dame


Notre Dame

Then we made our way to the Notre Dame de Paris, crossing the River Seine from its right to its left bank. The Cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The rib vault and the flying buttress, the beautiful rose windows, and the many sculptural decorations set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture. Built in the 12th century and completed in the 13th, much of its religious décor was damaged during the French revolution but interest in the building was revived soon after Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame was published. It is now the most visited monument in Paris with 12 million eager to witness its beauty every year.

Around Notre Dame

Hotel de Ville

The day was so wonderfully romantic that we finished it with an early cheese and beef fondue dinner at the Latin Quarter. After this satisfying meal, we chanced upon an old and seemingly uncared for Cathedral of St. Servin with its unique buttresses behind the altar, yes, behind. Then we did some shopping for souvenir items, finding my now oft-used inexpensive but elegant red shawl. Before going home, we also passed by the Hotel de Ville. It is not a hotel. It is the richly decorated City Hall
Musee d'Orsay

Musee d’Orsay

We devoted an entire day to tour the famous Musee d’Orsay, romantically housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art from 1848 to 1914, especially the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. We spent hours there and could easily have spent even more time, alternately admiring the beautiful masterpieces and dreaming about how to launch my own journey to painting.

Les Invalides

Les Invalides

Then we walked to the Les Invalides, just to make sure we got a photo of the largest and most glittering dome in all of Paris. We saw a glimpse of it when we were walking around the Eiffel Tower. It is the roof over Napoleon’s tomb at the Musee de l’Armee, the military museum of France. It helped us complete our view of the history of France with this tribute to the general who was supposed to build the French empire. But we were not in the mood for touring another large museum, not on the same day.  

Le Mur de Je t’aime

Instead, we trooped to the Le Mur de Je t’aime, the Wall of I Love You, a 40 square meter wall in the Jehan Rictus garden square in Montmartre, Paris, France. It is composed of 612 tiles of enameled lava, on which the phrase 'I love you' is written 311 times in 250 languages. Of course, the Tagalog “Iniibig Kita” is there just like its English version, “I Love You”! We found out that the station Abesses on Line 12 is just between Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge. We could have visited it on our first day with Yogi! But it completed our circle and neatly wrapped our Parisian gift box of romance.

the Love Wall

Vincennes

Royal Regency at Vincennes
Where we stayed contributed to all the good feelings we had in the city. It was a one-bedroom apartment at the Royal Regency in Vincennes, at the end of Line 1 of the Metro. It is part of our Diamond Resorts timeshare collection. It was about 350 square meters, including a patio, complete with a kitchen, a dining area, a living area, a bedroom, a bath suite, an enclosed toilet suite, and a foyer. Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday, there is a market around the city suburb’s own Hotel de Ville. The old Chateau de Vincennes is the city’s claim to fame. Around our neighborhood are a boulangerie, a U Express grocer, a pharmacie, an affiliate gym, and even an old cemetery.

We have never returned to any place we visited. With little time left on this earth, we always opt for a new place to visit except for Mazatlan which we have made a second home. But we want to return to Paris, maybe for another major Anniversary like our 15th  in 2023. And I bet it would be even lovelier the third time around!
pinnable image