Paris was a surprise trip for The Bloke. I’d been a few times before when I was in my late teens on various college trips, but they had only been for a day each time we went. I knew that he’d always wanted to visit, so six weeks before the summer in 2010 I booked five days in a little hotel near Montmartre and got some great deals on flights. I was so excited. The initial plan was to tell him that we were going to London for the weekend and then when arriving at the station for Birmingham International Airport (the London bound trains always stop here) I was going to reveal our actual destination, but he attempted to buy train tickets for London in advance to save some money, so I was forced to tell him a little earlier than I wanted to.
Paris is beautiful. Everything about the city is stunning – the food, the architecture, the history, the people – if I ever won the lottery I have promised myself that I will buy a tiny little flat so me and The Bloke can go there for half the year. It’s sophisticated, romantic and exciting – I’m a little in love with the place and I was really excited about the opportunity to see it again.
As we knew it was probably the only time for the forseeable future that we could visit, we crammed in as much as we possibly could into those five days and we were lucky that the weather was gloriously hot throughout the trip. I worked out how to navigate the metro system, which was fairly easy as it is almost identical to the London Tube, but was a little intimidated by the travellers that jumped on the trains to play music and ask for money, even though they were incredibly talented. We went up the Eiffel Tower (which is never a pleasant experience for me as I have a real issue with heights), saw the Sacre Coeur and walked right up to the top of the steps to see the fabulous views, we toured Notre Dame Cathedral, The Pantheon, Concorde, we walked down the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, we stood at the Trocadero at dusk to see the Eiffel Tower light up (The Bloke didn’t know about this and his look of surprise was an absolute delight when it happened), walked through the Jardin de Luxembourg, saw the Moulin Rouge, travelled down the Seine on the Bateaux Mouches and at night we sat by the Seine and watched the sunset over the Eiffel Tower.
I think my favourite experience of all was the Bateaux Mouches – we were able to travel down the Seine on a tourist boat and were given information about the different buildings as we passed by. The weather was gorgeous, the breeze was beautiful and we were able to relax and enjoy the beautiful views.
While this may seem quite morbid to some, we also visited Montmartre and Pere Lachaise Cemeteries where we saw the graves of Nijinsky, Berlioz, Rossini, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Stephane Grappeli and Chopin. As we approached Jim Morrison’s resting place we were greeted by some die-hard The Doors fans, wearing The Doors t-shirts and playing their music. It wasn’t what I expected – it was quite small and unnassuming and it was hidden away in the middle of lots of graves, although it was adorned with flowers and notes. A friend who had visited the week before told me that someone had placed a bottle of Jack Daniels on the grave when she was there. We spent a ridiculously long time looking for the grave of Maria Callas, only to find that it had been moved several years ago.
We also had to visit the Apple store below the Louvre. The Bloke is an ICT Technician and is an enormous fan of all things Apple and quietly stood in the store with his iPod trying not to show how giddy he was. We visited The Louvre and saw the Venus D’Milo and what must have been thousands of beautiful paintings. This was the first time I had visited and had recently developed an interest in art history thanks to becoming friends with a lovely art teacher at work, and I was desperately looking forward to seeing the Mona Lisa. However, attempting to get to it was about as difficult as getting to the front row of a Bon Jovi concert – it was extremely busy and I had to be quite rude and push my way through to see what was essentially a much smaller painting than I had imagined. After I we left I realised that we missed the Botticelli. Gutted. However, as we walked back towards the Champs Elysees I saw this, which cheered me up:
Sometimes, I can be incredibly childish!!
At the back of Notre Dame on the Pont de L’Archeveche it has become a tradition for visiting couples to put ‘love locks’ on the bridge. They write their names on a padlock, clip it to the fence and drop the keys in the Seine. After locating a hardware store (which is more difficult than I originally thought), The Bloke and I carved our initials into a small silver lock and clipped it onto the bridge – it was incredibly romantic, even more so that it was his suggestion.
It’s a perfect excuse to go back and see whether it’s still there…
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