Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I've always had a love/hate relationship with Paris. My memories are always in sync with books like this (which I'm currently reading), but the reality is quite different. Every time I go, Paris is an even bigger, even dirtier city and my love affair with busy polluted cities is rapidly coming to a close. Honestly? Paris disappointed me this weekend. I'm sorry Paris, it's not you, it's me.....
Paris is not a city of romance for me either. At least not of the "I love you" branch of romance. Italian cities do that a lot better. Paris is Romantic with a capital R - dark, gothic, melancholy - looks much better in the rain.
Exhausted as we both are at the moment, a city break was probably not really the holiday we both needed. Himself needed a rest and I needed somewhere I could be a little more introspective as I turned 35. I'm not sure how much good it's done us. That is of course not to say we didn't have fun!
The two main things that stand out for me are two things I have wanted to do for a long time and never got around too.
The Palace of Versailles - about half an hour out of Paris (on a very exciting double decker train!!!) is the palace made famous by the various King Louis and Marie Antoinette before all the beheading and so forth began. It has the most breathtaking gardens I have ever seen and the best thing about it? You can go in the gardens for free, you only have to pay for the Palace (which we didn't really want to go in anyway). Himself spent a lot of time dreaming about being a Muskateer and saying "en garde" a lot.
Pere Lachaise Cemetary - this cemetary in the east of Paris is probably most famous for just two of its hundreds and hundreds of graves. Oscar Wilde's and Jim Morrison's. I have wanted to see Jim's grave since I was about 17 and I felt a door close (in a good way - and pun very much intended) as I stood before the last resting place of James Douglas Morrison. And Oscar Wilde's stunning tombstone brought a tear to my eye engraved as it was with a verse from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" (imho the most moving and beautiful work of poetry ever).
I also had a lot of fun showing Himself around the Latin Quarter and St Germaine (my favourite parts of Paris) as well as taking him to the Musee National du Moyen Ages to show him the amazing Lady and the Unicorn series of tapestries made famous by Tracy Chevelier's novel. I could sit and look at these for hours and hours (except even this relatively unknown museum is crawling with tourists these days. I was particularly amused by an old Australian woman holding forth to her friends about the tapestries with such confidence whilst spouting so much misinformation a French woman intervened to give a more accurate account - ah the Australians!)
I also had a very special birthday lunch in a gorgeous restaurant on Rue Bonaparte. I had sea bass and Himself had duck and I spent two lovely hours just watching the painfully cool Parisians eating their lunch (including a woman who had a little dog in her handbag!).
AND I managed to do my yoga practice every morning despite having the smallest hotel room in the world!