..., or was it perhaps "in the winter when it drizzles".
Oh well, Paris is lovely whatever the season.
After the furnace fire I told you about last time, Hubby and I had to leave the house for a few days. As you can imagine, the stench of oil and smoke permeated everything and it was not at all pleasant to be home. Fortunately, we had booked a trip to Paris to celebrate Hubby's birthday and it could not have come at a better time. I must admit that I was so disheartened and worn-out over what had happened that I completely lost the desire to go, but thankfully Hubby changed my mind, and we had a few fantastic days in one of the world's most beautiful cities. Although it was rather cold and it rained a bit, spring had definitely arrived in Paris and the earliest spring flowers were already in bloom.
In front of the Town Hall, the Hôtel de Ville, winter was still being celebrated in full. Every time we walked past, there were loads of people here, so skating is apparently a popular pastime among the Parisians.
Liberty, equality, fraternity – the motto of the revolution is carved in stone high above the city.
A short walk away, at Notre Dame, the hundreds of pigeons treat everyone equally, they perch on the shoulder of an old lady as easily as Charlemagne.
The famous cathedral is considered to be one of the world’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. The stained glass windows and the tall columns provide a solemn background to worship, and one can only imagine how impressive this cathedral must have been to the inhabitants of Paris when it was completed in the 1200s.
The beatification of Jeanne d'Arc took place in this church, and her statue can be admired in one of the side chapels.
The Cathedral and the Seine is a lovely sight at night. If you walk across the bridge to the left bank you arrive at the Latin Quarter, where countless restaurants will tempt you with all sorts of good food at very reasonable prices.
Buskers often sit on the bridges. This man played La Vie en Rose for the tourists.
It seems French restaurants are always cramped, but the food never disappoints. Hubby was brave enough to try escargot, but I've never been tempted by such things. I opted for the onion soup au gratin, which tasted delicious, mainly due to the copious amounts of delicious cheese.
French wine is not the only accompaniment to a meal. Dry cider from Normandy came in bottles with champagne corks, and provided a refreshing compliment to all the cheese. We tried both cheese fondue and raclette (not on the same day!) and they were both delicious, but Oh my God so much fat! You can practically feel the cholesterol coating the insides of your arteries as you eat.
It is just as well that Paris offers plenty of opportunities for exercise. The road up Montmartre to the Sacre Coeur basilica consists of stairs followed by more stairs. It's enough to take the breath from the fittest of tourists, and when you finally reach the city's highest point, you will be rewarded with the breathtaking view.
However, if a view is what you are after, there is of course no place like the Eiffel tower. For a sizeable sum, you can take the elevator to the top. We didn’t, because the queues at each pillar were endless. Instead we walked around, looking at all the people in love. Paris is a romantic city, and the Parisians do their best to prove it. We haven’t seen so much snogging since Hubby’s daughter and her boyfriend were visiting us. The trees in the park were decorated with countless hearts carved into the bark.
A large number of newlyweds, all Asians for some reason, stood in line to be photographed with one of the world's most famous landmarks in the background.
Paris is also home to the world's most famous painting, and we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see the Mona Lisa.
Most people who visit the Louvre will probably head straight for this gallery, but there is so much more to see at the museum.
Unique world-famous art treasures are packed so tightly that it almost becomes too much of a good thing. In the end it becomes difficult to take it all in.
In addition, the palace is a work of art in itself. One must take the time to look around and admire the lavish decorations everywhere. The modern glass pyramid outside breaks sharply with the style, but it too is a sight to behold.
To see it all, you probably need a week to wander around the Louvre, but we only had one day here. The next day we went to the Cinematheque Française, where they have one of the largest collections of old movies, costumes and other film artifacts. It is perhaps not something for everyone, but for film buffs like us, this is a must.
Paris is a large city, but thankfully it is easy to get around on the Metro. Metro stations are often beautifully decorated. I love these signs in Art Nouveau style and the classic lamps and wall tiles. Just remember to keep a close watch on your wallet because the Metro is teeming with pickpockets. Despite the fact that I carried my handbag at the front, some cunning thief managed to sneak his hand down into it, and voila, my purse was gone. This is actually the third time this has happened to me in Paris, so next time I visit I'll use a money belt. Ah well, it's incredibly frustrating when this happens, but I can console myself that my passport and most credit cards were at our hotel, and the loss will be covered by travel insurance. Another thing to watch out for are the many deaf-mutes (who both hear and speak when you turn your back to them) who collect money, and Gypsies, who suddenly find a gold ring on the ground in front of you and wonder if it's yours. While you are busy looking at the ring, an accomplice will empty your bag and pockets.
On our last day in Paris, we walked along the Champs Elysees, to the Arc de Triomphe, which stands in the middle of a roundabout. Like so much else in this city, the monument is overwhelming. We were lucky and got some sunshine, so we could sit on the George V café and drink coffee (at a price!) and watch the people walking by.
I've always wanted to go to Paris in April, just so that I can walk around there and hum my favorite song by Ella & Louis.
We were a bit early now, but maybe next time….