Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Paris At Midnight
Well if Santa is going to be doling out any pressies around here this year, I certainly deserve prize for world's worst blogger. Not sure what's happened this year, I just can't seem to sit down and write a decent post. Apologies all round, I will try harder in the New Year. Note to Santa, "Please, if you're reading this upon your travels and happen to find my blogging mojo, please return and I'll make sure there's an extra mince pie waiting for you at bottom of the chimney".
Looking over my blog I can see that the last thing I mentioned was a chocolate pumpkin and an earlier post on my eldest's 18th birthday. Well the two are sort of connected - and I'm not inferring that my Big Sister is in anyway related to Cinderella....
On the evening of her 18th we promised her a party and recklessly agreed to leave the house. We went to see Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris", hoping that in some way it would a) take our mind off of what was going on at home in our absence (it did, kind of), b) offer picture perfect glimpses of one of our favourite places (it certainly did), c) mark a return to form for Mr Allen (it almost did) and d) whet our appetites for a forthcoming holiday in Paris (it certainly did).
We sat through the film oohing and aahing at the most romantic nighttime shots of Paris, recognising most of them and vowing to revisit them. We gasped when we saw our favourite restaurant featured in the film (not the 'posh one" but a little bistro where much of the pivotal action happens) and vowed to retrace our steps on our return.
So this time in Paris, again we were blessed with wonderful Autumnal weather, bright in the day and mild at night - we walked and we walked and we walked. Paris at night is heavenly, and definitely very very romantic. Up and down the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter, along the Seine, over Lover's Bridge (Pont des Arts) which is covered in padlocks symbolising lovers' everlasting love, we walked our socks off.
Not being in a position to do any shopping (boy was it expensive in Paris!), we indulged in late night window shopping along the Boulevard St Germain, choosing our favourite macaroons and designer clothes. As it was just before Halloween the windows of the chocolatiers were resplendent and it was there we saw that chocolate pumpkin.
Our eldest daughter had taken a literary guide with her and by day we followed in the footsteps of F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (who, incidentally lived for a while in an apartment opposite our hotel). We traced their steps through the Jardin du Luxembourg to cafes and shops along the way to visit Gertrude Stein at her 'salon". We were lucky enough to visit the most wonderful exhibition at the Grand Palais of the many fantastic works of art collected by the Stein Family again at night.
We pounded the streets in search of Oscar Wilde's final resting place. We walked from North to South, in search of the Beat poets, Samuel Becket and many more. We finally were able to take the girls along to visit the beautiful Pere LaChaise Cemetry and the one at Montparnasse too. It was not morbid at all just very, very interesting.
We visited our favourite ever bookshop again.
We ate our lunches at 5pm and suppers at 10pm. We stumbled out of bed just in time to catch the last of the breakfast in the hotel salon (we stayed again in the same pretty hotel as last time),
bathed our feet and somehow steeled ourselves for more miles of walking. We visited museums, markets, bakers and took shelter from the most dramatic rainstorm I have ever seen, and learnt that the very best way to see this beautiful city, apart from in that Woody Allen film, is on foot in the Autumn, at night when the light and romance fills the air, or during the day when the history, culture and determination of an 18 year old to complete her literary tour makes you forget your blisters and savour it all.