Paris Revisited

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Travel

I was thinking of revisiting Paris, and September seemed like a pretty good time to return. Because it is when tourists start to thin out and hotel prices are not steep either. I arrived in Paris to be greeted by wet weather. But the drizzling rain dampened my clothes not my mood. I checked into a hotel that was clean and chic. And what’s more, I got a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Exciting!

On my earlier visits, I mostly wandered around the familiar sights of Paris: from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. But this time, I wanted to venture beyond the familiar neighborhoods. So on the first morning after dropping my bags off at the hotel, I started with the 13th arrondissement where my hotel was located. I stepped onto the Ave des Gobelins with an open umbrella, and kept walking while looking at the historic buildings, bakeries and the street life. I stopped at the fruit stall to see some unusual grapes. When I got hungry, I ate at a small cafe on Rue Mouffetard. I also drank a cappuccino to fight my jet lag. After lunch, I ended up walking from Bastille to Hotel De’ville. And as I was strolling, it started pouring hard. So I stood in the shade of the next shop. How I loved the serendipitous stop: ah, the fresh flowers tempted me to take a bouquet back to my room. Afterward, I was in the tourist infested first arrondissement and I attempted to snap a few pictures of Le Palais Royal and the Louvre at night. Not a good idea! The place was swarming with tourists, so I couldn’t get shots without people in the frame.

I woke up to breakfast in bed for which I didn’t pay anything extra. It was a bread basket with flaky croissants, filter coffee with hot milk and juice. It was 7 a.m. but it was still very grey outside. I could barely see the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower. So I stayed in bed a little longer. Later, I went jogging in Square René-Le Gal park. It was a compact space but 5 loops of it was enough for my 5K routine. In the park, a dad was coaching his daughter to play tennis with the utmost patience while some parents sat on the bench watching their kids play on the slides. I found myself thinking of my grown children as little kids, and I longed to rewind my life 15 years when my son was seven years old. Soon I shook off the nostalgia and went back to my hotel.

That morning I met up with my daughter, who had just finished her two-week course in Paris. We took the metro to check into another hotel in the heart of Paris. After having lunch at an Italian bistro, we meandered through the streets of hip Marais. I spotted the Swedish Institute Café where I would have loved to eat their homemade almond torte in the garden. It was an oasis amid the bustling neighborhood. Perhaps on my next visit.

We hurried to Monmarte for our guided walking tour. At the Clos de Montmarte vineyard, two middle-aged lovers were lip locked, not noticing the passers-by. After all, this was Paris.

After our tour, I asked my daughter what she wanted to eat. Crepes it was. What else would a crepeholic want? Our unspoken mission for the next couple of days was to eat crepes until we got sick of them. The concierge at the hotel had recommended Creperie des Canettes in the 6th arrondissement. We headed there by metro. I ordered a goat cheese and spinach galette and finished my meal with a sweet crepe coated with apricot jam.

Another day, we flirted with the bohemian Canal St. Martin. I had heard about the hipster scene and was curious to check out the neighborhood. Dotted along the canal were many cafes, but we paused for a quick bite in a small cheese shop in one of the alleys. We ordered sandwiches—and a cheese plate!. Then, we strolled along the canal all the way back to Bastille. Back in the hotel, we crawled into our beds, exhausted from all that walking.

On the last day, we trudged up to a little alley near the Musee du quai Branly, which I had stumbled upon on my last trip. The alley gave way to a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. From there, we traveled a little outside of Paris to visit Albert Kahn’s museum. He was a philanthropist who had amassed photographs of people around the world. Kahn had also created a Japanese garden to express his love for Japan. Strolling through this gorgeous, serene place, we passed through a red colored bridge and a tea house. We came out of the museum to sit on the terrace of a café. It was just what we needed to rest our legs and refuel for energy. I ordered a cappuccino. But when we asked for some food, we were sad to hear that the kitchen was closed. Knowing that we couldn’t have any food only made us hungrier! But before dinner, we decided to walk along the Canal St. Martin one more time. There were lots of young Parisiens sitting along the canal enjoying their picnic. The sun was seting as we looked down from one of the bridges and I could see why it was such a romantic spot. From there we went to a creperie on Rue de Montparnasse to have our last dinner in Paris.

Every visit to Paris feels like a first kiss – making it an unforgettable moment.

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