Ah, Paris! Every little girl's dream, n'est-ce pas? Thanks to books, movies and art, it had pretty much reached the status of a magical, mythical place for me. I imagined high fashion strutting down narrow streets, bakeries and cheese shops on every corner, parks full of canoodling lovers and myself speaking impeccable French of course. It was a bit of a culture shock when I first arrived and discovered I had to look past the stifling heat, noisy motorcycles and difficult dialect for these bits of my fairy tale, but, rest assured, I found them. And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. The city of love it was indeed — I fell in love with it all!
Despite my long-time crush on Paris, I was actually quite surprised at my reaction when first seeing its iconic monuments in person. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you turn the corner and the Eiffel Tower is standing before you. It literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. We parked ourselves at its feet for hours, watching the sun set behind it until the light show began. It didn't get old — every time I looked up at it, I couldn't help but smile. I was in Paris!
I was also surprised by Le Louvre. Ever since I did a project on French art in elementary school, I have wanted to visit this museum that, to a 12-year-old girl, seemed to hold all the best art in the world. There were definitely some jaw-dropping pieces in there, the sheer size of which astounded me, but it was the building itself that made the greatest impression on me. I spent half of my time standing in corridors, looking up at crown moldings and painted ceilings. I guess I better start planning a return trip to catch all that I missed!
The Palace of Versailles and its gardens were pretty over-the-top. This is where some of the greatest Kings and Queens lived, including Napoleon and Marie Antoinette. It was decorated to excess, which was rather overwhelming at the time (especially when fighting hundreds of other tourists), but it's these textile wall coverings and architectural details that were the most inspiring to me from a design point of view.
Sightseeing aside, there were countless other moments from my visit here that I will cherish forever, romantic moments that I'm sure inspired it's fame as la ville d'amour. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, sipping a cup of tea and lazily picking at a fresh, flaky croissant, while gazing out over the River Seine, an old accordian player striking up a familiar tune in the background. Is there anything more Parisian than that? Le sigh.
Don't forget to check out my Picasa Gallery for many more pictures.
Next up... Part 3: A lesson in power travelling — 6 cities in 6 days!