Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Paris, Mon Ami

I'm probably one of those who aren't head-over-heels in love with Paris. That you have to be enamoured of the city of love is something of a cliché to me, but I can't help but be infatuated with Paris whenever we briefly meet again. That is, as long as I don't have to witness taxi drivers having a brawl outside Gare du Nord and tripping over our suitcases.

I was over for the weekend for work, and this time around, I managed to stroll and revisit some familiar sights and take in the beauty and peace of unfamiliar corners on my way back to my hotel. Come along with me.

The LGBT party continues, says a close friend, when I sent him a photo of this rainbow-coloured chair at Hotel Du Ministere along Rue de Surène. The receptionist says only 10 of these exist. It's called 'Proust Geometrica' designed by Alessandro Mendini for Cappellini.

My boss, another lovely colleague, and I, skipped the obligatory work drinks to saunter along the grounds behind the Palais Royal through to the courtyard of Musée du Louvre, and marvel at the world-famous Pyramide du Louvre, cross Place du Carrousel (but made a detour to Pont Des Arts first) to wander along the stretch of Jardin des Tuileries, and cap the night off by Place de la Concorde, waiting for the Eiffel Tower to be lit at exactly 10pm, which we decided to forego as we had an early start the following day. I'm sure the Tower would still be around when we go back in six months' time.

This would be my happy place; I love lone wooden benches in parks

Or a few together, where I can indulge my solitude

Who needs Evian when you've got this drinking fountain in your garden?

Or is it for washing one's feet or filling up the bucket to water the greens? For whichever purpose, I want one. I was told I can get quaint fixtures such as this in Lille.

Believe me, it wasn't this dark, but it was unfortunate that I left my camera at home, I had to make do with my camera phone.

I didn't even check which store this was, but I loved the window display. When in Paris, I don't really bother with the luxury fashion stores, but certain windows aren't to be passed up.

Deserted public spaces in London are a rarity, so this Parisian scene was an ultimate treat

Sunset view of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel leading to Jardin des Tuileries, which we'll cross later

The Pont Des Arts footbridge in Paris made the news in early June this year when part of the parapet (it was still barricaded last weekend) collapsed inwards due to the weight of the padlocks attached to the metal mesh. There are love lock bridges in other cities but the Parisian one is the most renowned.

Here, lovers leave padlocks inscribed or engraved with their names to symbolise their love.

Looking through the mesh of love

I must admit I was secretly hoping to find a namesake on one of the padlocks while scanning thousands of it. But then again, all my namesakes are either dead, dying, or someone's grandmother as my first name was last fashionable before World War II. I bet anyone above 65 would only care to place  padlocks on their safe.

The love lock bridge over the Seine. How can you not fall in love here?

Lots of space reserved for all of us who haven't left their padlocks yet. Some people left their hearts in San Francisco; I have yet to lock my heart in Paris.

photo courtesy of my boss

The stuff that films about love and serendipity are made of

Julia and Mike got engaged here. . .

And this couple just got married. . .

And guess who found his very own padlock placed on his behalf? My boss's padlock was located exactly 61 planks from the Louvre side. I know, it sounds like a line in The Da Vinci Code. Can you imagine if I was tasked to find his padlock to culminate my probation? I probably would have been looking at the other end, and that would cost me my job.

The lamp post now also serves as a lock post

Back to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built to commemorate Napoleon's military victories before 1806. The arc is perfectly aligned with the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, and inspired the design of Marble Arch in London.

The quadriga is Peace riding in a triumphal chariot. I must say that I'm partial to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate quadriga, which incidentally, was taken to Paris by Napoleon, having been the first to use the Brandenburg Gate for a triumphal procession.

I found this woman at Jardin des Tuileries. I probably would have done the same--but in a bikini and a pareo.

And oh, this grazing goat. . .

. . .who lingered at me as he (?) knew we shared the same zodiac sign. We're soul mates.

I suppose that one distinctly Parisian acitvity is sitting on lounge chairs around public fountains at dusk. We were discussing how we couldn't possibly engage ourselves in this back in London. I advocate silence and need a regular dose of it. I chose a chair directly opposite the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. It's one of those moments when I didn't need a book or music, but could use a glass of wine instead, except I don't walk around town with a bottle of wine at the ready.

I did mention that I don't check out the luxury shops when I'm on a short trip to Paris, but when you're in the vicinity of this prominent shopping mecca, just allow your sartorial voice to guide you.

One of my favourite luxury brands. Can you guess which one this is?

If you've read or heard on the news about passengers being trapped in the tunnel for five hours, I was luckily not one of them. Mine was a more 'luxurious' wait for a couple of hours to get on board the Eurostar from Paris to London, and another hour to be cleared to cross the underwater channel. Of all days, it had to happen on the day I was coming back from Paris. 

Via my Instagram: the queue on Monday night at Paris Gare du Nord for the Eurostar trip to London's King's Cross St.Pancras

My blogger friend Forcailini would surely be chuckling about my Gallic adventure as she also virtually witnessed my eight-hour delayed flight to Amsterdam last year when two birds were sucked straight into a plane's propeller, causing a combustion, and prompting a shutdown at Heathrow as authorities were alerted of what was thought of as a terrorist attack. 

I seem to have jinxed short-distance trips, the only way to undo the hex is to take long haul flights instead.


  1. For me Paris has it's moments, it's romantic and beautiful especially artuful, but I also did not have it on my top list of places to visit when I was younger, then I went a few times and loved it. I suppose it is also different when you are there with a significant other. Great photos, and wow, that must have been some airport story to tell afterward. :)

    1. I agree: Paris has its moments. It's never been in my top list also for the main reason that everyone wants to go there. I prefer other European cities that aren't tourists' first choice such as Berlin or Vienna. But as you say, Paris has its moments and I love enjoying those moments with Paris :)

  2. Lovely post. I want to go back to Paris right now. x

    1. Thank you. Go, before you change your mind :)

  3. I love this post, Marj. Seeing pictures of Paris always makes me want to go back *sigh* I've only been there once but it's enough for me to be smitten with the bug. But then again I am a self-confessed Francophile, so that shouldn't come as a surprise. (And I don't mind being the cliché.) You are so so lucky that you constantly have an excuse to go there.

    1. Thank you, Rhona. You know what? I apologise for being quite insensitive sometimes to those who'd exchange places with us for a day or two just to spend time in Paris, which is so close to where we live. I guess it's a cliché not to be appreciative of the things you know you can always have. I hope you can go back one day soon :)

  4. ha ha yes, what is it with you and short haul trips, but I like your conclusion: more long haul trips instead - love it! Thanks for the tour, there are a few places I'm familiar with and others less so. There are certainly some iconic and imposing sites in Paris and all with their own story; I do love Paris for that, but no more than any other cities I have visited. I didn't realise the arc inspired the design of Marble Arch, but now you have brought it to my attention, I can see that. I was there in May, but wouldn't necessarily rush back this year, unless I got a really good deal or could find an excuse to take it out of work expenses he he xx

    1. Yes! I'll suprise you with the long haul trip, you might wanna go there too :) Yes, Paris will be always be Paris and there will always be something to discover or rediscover. But it's not a city I'll consciously would visit. I'm lucky to go courtesy of work. So might as well take advantage. Have a lovely week x

  5. Paris used to be my favourite city in my teens until I discovered London. Over the past few years, I have been falling in love with Paris again. Going there at the end of August and looking forward to it.


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