When you go anywhere that isn’t home, the general rule is to do all sorts of things that you wouldn’t or couldn’t do at home; visit famous museums, go White Water Rafting, climb some big, tall thing… So when you go to Paris, you visit the Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay even if you don’t particularly enjoy looking at art. Right? You climb the Eiffel Tower, or at least use the elevator, even if you’re afraid of heights. Of course!

There are many things to do in Paris that you couldn’t do at home. Don’t really like art? Paris has more museums than you can poke a stick at, not to mention more than its fair share of big, tall things to climb…okay so no White Water Rafting but there are boat cruises of any kind you could wish for. But arguably the best part about being an adult {and paying your own way} is that you aren’t compelled to do any of these things. For some people it might seem a little silly to go all the way to Paris and not do the usual sights, and I’d never suggest this. But these days there are so many lists of the Best-whatever in Paris, the best ten cafes you simply must eat in, the best 10 Insta-worthy spots in Paris…it can get a little stressful.

This is why I say that the best trip to Paris is the second trip. That’s the visit when you’ve ticked off a lot of the must-see items and you can settle into working out what exactly you want to see. When hubby and I were in Paris on the first leg of our extended honeymoon, we didn’t want to do any of the must-see things. We just wanted to be in Paris, together. It was Springtime, the perfect time, arguably, in the City of Light. And by arguably I mean I will argue with myself. Everyone tells you to avoid Paris in the Summer! Not me, I love August because the city empties out. Admittedly it can be wall-to-wall with tourists but the road-workers, the school buses full of kids, the commuters have all gone to their country or beach getaways. Isn’t it magical how all the roadwork is complete in time for the summer holidays, les grandes vacances and then they rip up the roads again right after wishing everyone a bonne rentrée in September?

Our honeymoon was long and leisurely, the best kind, and bookended by weeks in Paris at either end. After a cold, damp month in the UK, Paris was calling. Remembering those first sunny weeks, I can’t think of a single museum we visited or place of interest. We walked for hours, sat under trees and fed pigeons, piqueniqued in the Place des Vosges on sunny afternoons along with the rest of Paris.

I don’t think there was a patisserie or boulangerie that we managed to walk past but like magic we stayed slim like only the young can. We ate Thai food over near Montparnasse, drank too much in Montmartre. On a rainy day we went to the cinema on the ChampsÉlysées . We wandered along past the bouquanistes and bought old postcards written in the 50s. Was it really as magical as my memory tells me it was? Surely it couldn’t have been.

Back in the days before locks were solemnly attached to unsuspecting public utilities, lovers in Paris had to be content to show their love by holding hands, taking photos of one another, enjoying cheese and wine on the Champ de Mars with my favourite monument, the brooding iron lady, the Eiffel Tower, chaperoning us. Each time we found our way near her, and it happened every other day, we snapped a photo of the huge digital clock that was counting down the days until the year 2000. It seems so quaint now and so long ago. We ate pizza and deep-fried jalapeños with 576 days to go. We drank champagne with our friend Grace a few days later probably around 570 days left of the 20th century. Even flicking back through all the old photos, I can see the queues, the crowds but when I close my eyes, I feel as though we had Paris all to ourselves.

The mind plays tricks on people in love. When I think back I struggle to picture another human being there in Paris with us. Wasn’t it just us two, and the pigeons?


jours avant l’an 2000 – 576

2 Replies to “Day 9 – Remembering Paris”

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