Alighting on to the Champs Elysees I immediately caught sight of the pivotal monument and followed suit of the fellow tourists, taking a risque move to strand myself in the middle of the rush-hour traffic. Why? All to capture a good photo without obstacle. (alas, I have submitted a stereotypical millennial) It worked, however, making it safely across and back without injury. Though I was hoping to catch glimpse of golden hour, the weather wasn’t playing ball, but it was beautiful all the same.
The day was topped with a trip to the Eiffel Tower as the sun slid into a murky darkness, allowing us to catch the spectacular light show not once but thrice as we queued late into the night. The mild air turned and the wind picked up, so our trip up was a thrill as the lift shook and railings rattled. We took a walk round the exterior, taking in the night-glow views, before descending back into the lively nightlife of the city.
I awoke after a good night’s sleep to a simple but sufficient buffet breakfast, which bore the most scrumptious sweet bread for toast. Coffee consumed, we stuffed together our backpacks and set off into the midday light, which it turned out was muddied. We ascended once more from the underground to the windswept lawns of the Parc du Buttes Chaumont, where we walked up to the Temple of Love and gazed out across the Parisian skyline.
Sadly our escape was short-lived, evacuated from the park before we could explore any further, due to safety concerns over a looming storm. Leaves dancing around the pavement as a light breeze picked up and by the time we glanced up at the Notre Dame the clouds sat heavy and the rain swept down. Scurrying between the trees, bistros and vendors, we eventually found shelter and sat down to lunch at the back of a local restaurant.
It was good to pause and rest our working feet, to the point I found I was almost grateful for the rain. Thankfully it passed timely as we came pay the bill and wandered off across the Seine to explore Shakespeare and Company, the most delight bookshop. Every crook is lined with shelves all stacked with books of every age and genre. Reading snugs provided, a piano playing and a workshop all occurring simultaneously within its evocative walls.
I longed to wile away the hours here, but for us the clock was ticking and it was off to the Louvre, via the Pont des Arts. I could only imagine what the bridge was once like when it was adorned by the thousands of locks, but the views along the Seine remained the same.
As for the Louvre, well the building looked extravagant from the outside and on this occasion we wouldn’t have time to uncover the Mona Lisa’s smile. We did however, manage to find the Hard Rock Cafe’, where as usual on our travels we stopped for a beverage and some music. Despite only finding time for half a-pint, it gave our backs a rest, before rushing to the station to catch the Eurostar back to Blighty.
As the light quickly faded, I cast one last glance across the bustling concourse of Gare du Nord through the upper windows, an even larger metropolis than what memory served me, but captivating all the same. It was a jam-packed 48 hours and we did well to see what we did. On reflection it would have been good to find the time to enjoy a more leisurely pace, like I always imagined you should take whilst in Paris, but we certainly saw the sights!
If I ever find myself a 3rd time in Paris, at least I know now how to find my way and can recall my favourite places in which to unwind.