A brilliant layover trip to Paris, France!
It was a “PG” sort of trip; I travelled with my new friend Jale (Juh- lay), and her beautiful mother, Helene. Jale and Helene are of Turkish descent and Jale was born in Australia. Helene was wrapping up a summer trip to Turkey and joined her daughter in Dubai. Jale and I operated the flight from Dubai to Paris where the lovely ladies would continue their mother- daughter visit. I love them both and thank them tremendously for sharing my day – or I should say, for allowing me to share their day! They got along so lovely and I miss my Mom so terribly, so it was sincerely quite beautiful to be in their presence.
We arrived to a beautiful day of 29 degrees celsius, in mid-afternoon. Nine of us crew piled into a cab to set out for the city. What to do, and where to start – and who to do what with who?! We talked of champagne below the Tour Eiffel (named after Gustave Eiffel) in the Champs de Mars, leaving the Trocadero district we would join a bus tour followed by a Siene River boat cruise to save our feet after working a long flight, and finally, a formidable dinner!
Jale, Helene and I set off on our own. Our afternoon began at Pont Neuf, which means “new bridge,” however, it is the oldest standing bridge in Paris. For the first time, I saw the River Siene and it was amazing to see the history built all along its banks! This grand canal, with its mouth being the English Channel, its basin countries Belgium and France, is arched with over 120 bridges, linking districts to one another and giving Paris a mosaic of flavours and CULTURE! Take away a few hundred thousand tourists and I would think even Parisians would love their city – more than they already do, of course!
I dutifully listened to the guides, as much as humanly possible after working a long and full flight. I mentally took notes of what to research a little more in-depth at a later time… and then I just quit. Be there and take it in, I told myself. It was a beautiful day, the breeze atop the double decker was very much welcomed and the sights breathtaking. There was so much to absorb! (By the way I am usually “near- against” double decker bus tours in any city and this is the first one I utilized. No, you don’t have to be in your fifties! Besides, bring along some Chablis and you’ve got a booze cruise.)
Paris is Huge, Busy and Exciting:
And always beautiful, no matter what time of year and the tranvestites are something to behold, even in their pink glory at four o’clock in the afternoon.
Which takes me to the Quatier Latin. The Latin Quarter of Paris is in the 5th and parts of the 6th arrondissement (district), situated on the left bank of the River Siene. It is known for its lively atmosphere, bistros, higher education establishments and therefore, the best public houses. They are not called Pubs – this is not England or Ireland and don’t EVER confuse the two or compare. Big snobby riots will break out 😉 There is nothing “Latino” about the district and the area was named for its international language of learning during the middle ages.
The Theatres and Opera houses are structures I now remember to be something of a stage. But not literally, here, I just mean that they seemed “staged” or a facade. I am meaning that I cannot comprehend what I was seeing. I discussed this once, recently, with a dear male friend I travelled with to Spain and Italy. We agreed that there was so much beauty and we were filled with amazement with every new architecture we witnessed that we took the “little guys” (smaller structures) for granted. The sights became overwhelmingly too much, quite simply.
Opera de Paris Bastille, Madeleine (Magnificent theatre), Comedie Francais, Palais Royal… All beautiful with their gardens and more than grand entrances! I vow to see a production, show, ballet, or concert of any kind in ANY of these facilities at some point in my young or old life!
Of course, the museums!
The stunning Pantheon (means ‘Every God’), which is actually a secular mausoleum and up until 1922 housed ‘The Thinker’, Rodin Musee (‘The Thinker’, and my favourite, ‘The Kiss’), Musee du Louvre.
Let me pause at its greatness; Musee du Louvre. Built in the 12th century, like much of the trandescent landscapes of Paris, 35,000 objects reside, from prehistory to the 19th century. None of that surprises or impresses a layman like me. What does impress is the history; the controversy, the seizures, court cases and war. There it stands today with works that have endured all of that! Imagine! And the bloodshed! I could write an entire essay here, but my brightside won’t allow for that at this moment.
Interestingly, I just read that the Musee Louvre announced opening a Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. Construction will be completed next year. This is a 30 year agreement, signed by the French Culture Minister, Renaud Donnediue de Vabres and Sheik Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan – costing 1.3 billion…. etc, blah blah…. It was designed by a french architect and the roof will resemble a flying saucer. Like the French, I have opinions about that. If you have money, they will build it? The UAE is younger than me! Only 33 years old. Perhaps “The Great Louvre” could find a more nostalgic home? Forgive me and my ignorant view, but… Anyway, 200 – 300 works will be rotated over a period of 15 years. Shukran – (Arabic for thanks) – I can see some works in my own “backyard sandpit”.
Tour Eiffel, etc.
tidbits: During the German Occupation, Adolf Hitler was embarrassed when the swastika flag blew off into the city and when he attempted to erect a new one he found the cables to the lifts cut. He immediately ordered the tower be destroyed and General Dietricht Von Choltitz disobeyed. I like ole cold titz 🙂
Also, it takes 70 tonnes of paint every 7 years to coat the “Iron Lady” to prevent the old lady from rusting. What a job! In my funny – to – me- mind, I picture hundreds of beret’d men in striped shirts painting away with little brushes. Artistes. . Kim, stop…..
Oh, and ‘The Thinker’ – it is Rodin’s sculpture depicting Dante pondering poetry over the Gates of Hell and represents intellect – duh! ‘The Kiss’ is a sculpture capturing an Italian woman kissing her husband’s brother and committing adultery! Very sinful. I love Rodin’s story. He married his life-long partner, Rose Beuret, in the LAST year of both of their lives. If you don’t get married for ever and ever – but you do right before you die – wow – Finally gave in – but the point is he gave in to his beloved companion and it was meant to be. If I wasn’t romantic – I am now!