As the title suggests, this was our second time travelling to the magnificence that is Paris. This time, we were doubly filled with anticipation, as we were due to meet Joel’s parents Geoff and Marjorie in the city of dreams. It had been a year and a half since Joel had been in their company, and what better place to catch up on all that had transpired since the move to Europe that in one of the gems of her crown!
So thus we found ourselves ringing the oh-so-french doorbell of a second floor Parisian apartment in our favourite area of Paris – Saint Germain des Pres. We were greeted by a weary but joyful “Bonjour!” from Geoff & Marjorie. Tight hugs lasted but a minute before I was dragging the cohort down by the Siene to Pont Neuf along with the locals to watch the sun set over the Pont des Arts, with picnic in hand. I have to admit I felt slightly hypocritical given that our picnic was purchased over the channel, but time was of the essence and as everyone who knows me well will tell you – I cannot miss a good sunset. This one did not disappoint, we watched the pink and red hues light up the sky, silhouetting the clusters of likeminded young people along Pont Neuf, clinking wine glasses and whiling the balmy night away to the tune of their guitars.
The next morning we promptly made up for our faux picnic by marching straight down to Eric Kayser. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Joel and I consume 90% of our meals at his bakery when in Paris. Breaking apart one of his crusty baguettes and lathering it with butter and local jam is always a highlight. This happens every.single.morning in Paris. We are becoming rigid in our ways! So of course this accommodation was placed conveniently across the street from the Saint Germaine outpost of Eric Kayser. It did not disappoint. I have come to expect high things from Mr Kayser and if you visit one day yourself you will understand why. The displays in the windows light up like christmas trees, a kaleidoscope of colours and flavours which would take weeks to wade through (pants with elastic waists would be best).
We only had a brief two or three days in Paris, but we packed in the usual highlights. Geoff and Marjorie, jet-lagged as they were, kept remarkably in tow. It was an impressive feat since we managed to combine a climb up the Tour de Eiffel (and managed to catch our second glorious sunset from the top), Sacre-Coeur & Montmartre, Champs Elysees, the Marais, Latin Quarter, Arch de Triomphe, Rue Mouftetard, Notre Dame, Jardin de Luxembourg and Canal St-Martin into the itinerary.
Geoff & Marjorie walked until blisters formed and Joel and I again indulged in our favourite Parisian past-time, the Velib bicycle system. Not much beats flying along the Siene with a fresh baguette in your basket, admiring the french balconies, turrets and shutters in the midst of summer. One thing I did not realise was that in August there is an en-mass exodus of Parisians for the coast and countryside. As a result a lot of the boutiques that I so enjoy were closed up and the city felt decidedly more touristed than local. However, it does not stop you from taking in the major sights such as the overwhelming range of museums. For instance we enjoyed an acceptably short queue for the Musee D’orsay – in my opinion, the best art museum in Paris. What is not to like about a museum which houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh? I could quite easily sift through hours upon hours gazing in awe of these exquisite works of art.
It was also a happy coincidence that our European Comrades Rach & Josh were living in Paris at the time. What is better than catching up with old friends over a glass of french wine in the most picturesque of sunny city squares? Similar adventurers create bonds you do not share with others, and of course plenty of entertaining stories!
I shall let the pictures do the rest of the talking as I prepare the post for our subsequent destination – Provence, the land of the lavender, sunflowers and hilltop villages…