Thursday, 18 November 2010
I still can't believe that it is 23 years since I was last in Paris with a young Mr Roses on a very romantic weekend break. It feels like yesterday...
Fast forward 23 years, two daughters and five cats later, and we're back in one of my favourite cities. Never ones to rush into things, we certainly took our time about returning but it was so worth the wait.
Our last visit was pure indulgence - young and child-free we roamed the streets and river bank till late in the night. This time with the girls in tow we decided to let them choose. Anticipating a very different stay in Paris, we were surprised to find that once again our days were full of walking - walking here, there and everywhere, from early in the morning till late at night. And the four of us found it just as romantic as ever.
As we were only there for three days, we knew we had to cram in as much as possible and as much as little legs could manage. So, grab a cuppa, put on your comfiest walking shoes and join us...
We decided to stay once more in the Latin Quarter, our favourite quartier in Paris. Just a few streets away from where we stayed all those years ago, yes, you see, we are creatures of habit. The wonderful thing about Paris, and there are many wonderful things, is that you never know what is going on behind those doors, doors leading onto courtyards, gardens, wonderful centuries old apartments, giving no hints of the secrets they hold.
We had of course seen photos of our hotel before arriving but were rather apprehensive when we saw the closed doors on the rather nondescript street. Well, we needn't have worried - open the doors and we were transported to provincial France, we could have been anywhere.
Cobblestones leading us into a pretty hidden courtyard, pink washed buildings with shutter framed windows on all sides and the autumn coloured leaves framing our view.
It was perfect! Our bedroom turned out to be very French, so glad we did not have to much of the vin while we were there as we would have experienced serious difficulties distinguishing the soft furnishings from the wardrobe!
A view out on to shuttered rooms,
the house where Ernest Hemmingway lived opposite and the one where James joyce finished writing Ulysses just a couple of doors away. We were truly steeped in Parisian history and we hadn't even left the building!
So, less than two hours after stepping off Eurostar we began our Grand Tour. Through the gorgeous, gorgeous streets of the Latin Quarter we skipped, marvelling at the beauty that was everywhere.
Spotting as many Metro signs as we could. Grinning as we watched the very stylish Parisians going about their business, speaking their beautiful language.
The girls wanted to see Notre Dame so we made for the river.
I really wanted to see the Seine above everything else. For me, you don't really feel like you've done Paris until you've walked along the riverbank.
Well Notre Dame wove its magic, a truly spectacular building. Looking even more beautiful on this sun kissed autumn afternoon. We walked down to the River Seine and strolled along the banks, I know people tell you about visiting Paris in the spring, well I've been in the spring and in the summer but Paris in the autumn is gorgeous! Really gorgeous!
Because our youngest daughter had never been before, everything was special and this made it special for us too. Slowly she lost her shyness and the new french words she was learning at school began to flow.
We headed along the river to the Musee D'Orsay to see some paintings, making use of the late night closing on Thursdays.
.Aware that we wouldn't have the time to see them all, we headed for the Van Gogh, Renoir and post impressionist paintings. I was surprised at just how moved we all were to see the Van Gogh paintings, they were truly stunning.
We headed back along the river towards the hotel and literally collapsed on our beds! We needed food and we needed it fast!
After eating at a lovely little restaurant near Notre Dame we went back towards the river and fell in love! If you ever get to Paris please go to this bookshop = Shakespeare and Company.
It is steeped in history and possibly one of the most romantic shops I have ever visited.
Mr Roses said that it is probably the easiest place to imagine falling in love, bumping into somebody as you chose a book from the old wooden shelves, chatting, chatting and then going for a stroll along the river...
We tore ourselves away from the old books and managed to squeeze in a walk along the river before bed.
I remembered the last time we'd done this, Mr Roses and I, and told the girls that it had been oh so romantic until I realised that the black dots I'd kept noticing were really rats and I truly scarpered. Not to be put off this time we set off for our moonlit stroll, until Big Sister of course noticed the scurrying in the corners once more turned out to be rats and we legged it as fast as we can back towards the hotel.
We strolled along the Boulevard Saint Germain,
past famous cafes,
did a spot of window shopping and just soaked it all up.
We were of course really tired but oh so excited about being there, and decided to take the girls to see the Pantheon at night. I fell in love with this building even more, lit up like this, it looked so majestic. I can't remember how many times I strolled round and round it.
So we reached our hotel room, our little legs even shorter than when we started and we closed the shutters, shut out the French singsong that was our backdrop and had one of our best sleeps ever... knowing that there were two more days ahead to savour.