I love Paris in the Springtime
I love Paris in the Fall
I love Paris in the Winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the Summer when it sizzles
And so goes the first part of the lyrics of Cole Porter’s love song for Paris, I Love Paris of which he wrote the music as well as the lyrics. Who doesn’t fall in love with Paris? I couldn’t agree more with Cole Porter, as well as Audrey Hepburn’s classic line from Billy Wilder’s film “Sabrina” (1954), when she says: “Paris is always a good idea”.
Paris is not for changing planes, but changing outlook
I’ve been to this legendary and timeless city many times in all seasons, and every time it tells me something new, changes my outlook, embraces my being with it’s grandeur and extravagant buildings, museums, gardens, romantic spots.
It makes you rediscover the inimitable feeling of being there; taking a boat ride down the Seine, walking under the magical Paris sky, smelling the baguettes in the air. It feels like a mixture of being on the set on some of the numerous Paris movies, and at the same time experiencing intensely your authentic Paris story. And you can be certain of that it constantly surprises and amazes you with its different atmospheres.
Woody Allen’s Isaac, asks himself in the film “Manhattan”, “Why is life worth living?”, and then lists things as Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony, Louis Armstrong’s recording of Potato-head blues, Swedish movies, Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne, the crabs at Sam’s Wo’s and of course, his fiancé Tracy’s face.
I made my parallel list of “Why is Paris worth visiting”?
In one of the brilliant dialogues from before mentioned “Sabrina”, between Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina) and Humphrey Bogart (Linus), Linus answers her question about his ever being to Paris, saying that he only has been once to the city, and just for 35 minutes changing planes. She comments his answer in the following way: “Oh, but Paris isn’t for changing planes, it’s for changing outlook and letting in… letting in la vie en rose.” I totally agree with this wise lady, and put that on top of my list.
Fresh early morning magic
It’s romantic and part of a relaxing weekend to get up a little late, enjoying abundant breakfast of caffé au lait, croissant, scrambled eggs and baguette with marmalade before starting the Day’s Tour. Nevertheless I advise you to get up before dawn on one of you Paris morning to capture some magics that can only be experienced at break of day. One is watching the sun rise behind the Tour Eiffel at the Jardins du Trocadéro and then go for a lukewarm, crispy croissant right out of the oven at a nearby boulangerie.
The Seine river adds a big portion of vitality and motion to The City of Light. Taking a boat ride really make you feel as you were on the set of a Woody Allen movie, “Midnight in Paris” f.example, making kind of a “time travel” on the water, as well as getting a unique perspective of the city’s neighborhoods. You just need to add some jazz, and you’re there.
Walking on the Seine’s riverbanks is then by itself a reason enough to go to Paris. Sometimes the water is high and wavy, reminding almost of a bursting sea, or its quietly flowing caressing your biggest dreams on your river promenade.
Montmartre – village in the city
The Montmartre Hill for me represents the Heart of the City, where the Sacre Coeur Basilica is situated, the picturesque Place du Tertre and the only vineyard of the city. In fact in this arrondissement, (Paris’s 18th), you almost feel as being in a village in the city, which you admire all around beneath you feet. Intimacy is the key word for this peaceful and poetic neighborhood. I love museums, and Paris is full of them. Le Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Le Pomdidou are amongs the great museums that come first to mind, but then you have a series of small and more “secrety” ones. On Montmartre we have f. example The Dali Museum.
A small collection of the spanish master, is uplifting for the spirit, and a good idea after a bistrot lunch before visiting the Sacré Coeur church.
You can’t get more romantic
Staying in intime and romantic atmosphere, there’s a gorgious little museum at the root of the hill, at rue Chaptal, 16, you will find Le Musée de la Vie Romantique.
The house that hosts the museum, was from the beginning thought as an artistic melting point. It’s owner, the Dutch painter and drawing teacher, Ary Scheffer was well worthy as a representative of the romantic school.
Living in Paris from 1811, he moved into the house in 1830, and for the next 30 years, his demeure was to become one of the city’s main refernce point for the city’s artistic & intellectual elite. George Sand, Fréderic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Jules Dupré, Giacchino Rossini, Pauline Viardot and Charles Dickens, are amongst the great spirits that honored the house with their presence.
If you wish to feel the ardent romantique Paris air at it’s peak, this is the place.
Chopin’s piano is still there, and you can “hear” the charming Nocturnes fill the air. In spring you will get an extra sensory bonus, breathing in the intense perfume of the house garden roses. There is also a Salon du Thé, where you can sip your tea embraced by the whole romantic entourage, feeling as in another era, nibbling on one of the delicious Rose Bakery patisseries.
While you sit there why not top the experience and listen to the main theme from Sabrina, Isn’t it romantic on your phone (with ear cuffies naturally).
If feeling really bursting with the urge to express your romantic soul, you could consider taking two discrete waltzing steps in midst of the roses to immortalize the moment in a Musical Film manner. Look for inspiration in Woody Allen’s Movie Everyone says I love you.
The charm and chats de Paris
When staying in Paris, I always try to stay on the top floor of a small hotel, or at least high up, in order to get the intime feeling of the neighborhood, free of traffic noice. In this way one observes the life parisienne at a glimpse from the balcony. Paris is most certainly a catlover’s city. They love Paris and Paris loves them. Cat paintings and photos are a common sight, and you get a lot of occasions to admire our wise furry friends, especially if you rent a rooftop room. They love to say hello and keep you company from their house gutter or nearby rooftop. Charles Baudelaire is one of many that has dedicated poems to the noble felines. This is one is to be found in Fleurs du Mal
Come, superb cat, to my amorous heart;
Hold back the talons of your paws,
Let me gaze into your beautiful eyes
Of metal and agate.
When my fingers leisurely caress you,
Your head and your elastic back,
And when my hand tingles with the pleasure
Of feeling your electric body,
In spirit I see my woman. Her gaze
Like your own, amiable beast,
Profound and cold, cuts and cleaves like a dart,
And, from her head down to her feet,
A subtle air, a dangerous perfume
Floats about her dusky body.
— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
The vivid colors of art
Another Paris visit motivation is the stimulating breeze of art felt in the air basically everywhere, that cuddles your senses and is a constant reminder of the cultural importance and color the arts are give to our lives: Forenamed museums, churches, architectural masterpieces, theatres, and concerts await the visitor at every footstep, and often in quite unexpected places, like on a boat on the river.
Paris – Chez moi
There is the saying: “To feel at home”. It is a beautiful term trying to express the sensation felt when entering a particular place and make oneself comfortable, as you were at home. Home is where the heart is, and here are listed some of the places and dishes Paris, that bring me that feeling. They are my fixed and “must” do things when in Paris in between all the other discoveries and experiences. They say that the taste memories tend to be the strongest ones. I totally agree on that, and find the Food & Memory connection the most precious and incredible thing. You can take million pictures of your tarte tatin, but it’s the memory of it’s caramelized texture and salty sweetness that the heart really remembers.
Chez Marianne in Le Marais, 4th arondissement, is kind of an institution in the stylish Jewish quarter, on 2, rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais, on the corner of rue des Rosiers, in the heart of the neighborhood.
The menu which is a selection of Jewish, Mediterranean and Eastern Europe dishes, reflects the colorful, vivid and multicultural air Le Marais. The cuisine is open at any time of day (that is everyday from noon until midnight), and then you can also grab an authentic pitta falafel from a kiosk facing the street.
Breakfast at a street café or boulangerie is a must. Hotel breakfasts are nice, but I prefer a Paris boulangerie or café petit-déjeuner starting off the day surrounded by the awakening morning noises and intoxicating fresh croissant smell.
In this way the precious morning memory is registered by all the senses at the “highest volume”, and remains more imprinted to the heart’s memory. If you wan’t a really substantial breakfast, adding a croque madame is a good idea.
Monet’s Water Lily Cicle at the Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries Gardens.
…….and above all: The Paris Sky