“Il n’y a que deux endroits au monde où l’on puisse vivre heureux: chez soi et à Paris.” — The Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Tags

, , , , ,

In Ernest Hemingway’s words, “There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.” One can only surely capture the essence of his words whilst being in Paris.

Gaumont De Champs-Élysées

Gaumont De Champs-Élysées

The “City of Love” is also referred to as the “City of Lights” as you all must already know, and The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is probably where it all happened. A walk down that road, with twinkling lights, to complement the stars when it’s a clear sky, at night just a bare glance to this grand rue of Paris is absolutely priceless.

I am not much of a brand addict but I do love window shopping and this street can make it seem so dreamy. The Disney store, Gaumont De Champs-Élysées, oooooo and the Sephora, I am more into cosmetics & fragrances than clothes so I did check out the Dior and Prada outlets…wow, they were expensive. That’s why I buy my perfumes from duty-free…sounds like an advert for duty-free…LOL

Once the shopping, the WINDOW shopping was done, we had to grab some dinner. Fortunately, Champs-Élysées is a much better location than the Eiffel to find a decent restaurant. The food around Eiffel is expensive and that too for no reason. The quality is not up to the mark and you’re paying more than what it deserves. But around  Champs-Élysées, the restaurant at least offer you lovely food, at quite higher price but still, good food is worth paying money for. We did have a lot of choice as well with the cuisines but we went for the pizza. Someone recently just told me, that pizzas used to be poor people’s food in ancient times. How they came up with it was, the flour would be cheap, chop a few vegetables on a tiny base, probably left over vegetables, and heat it up in the open oven. Ironic, how these days we end up paying so much to acquire the authenticity there is in an old fashioned Italiano pizza.

 

Advertisements

Saturday with La Tour d’Eiffel et Champs-Élysées – The Eiffel Tower

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Image

He lived not too far away from Paris, Île-de-France, the sub-urban outskirts of Paris, is where he still resides. The town of Évry, is as I would describe…clean, green and calm. There were tall shady trees everywhere, lakes alongside the road and a few little old churches. A lovely place to live as long as you drive otherwise the metro to the main city was good half-an-hour walk away from there. Not too long a walk provided the weather is reasonable, which it was that day. Still we took the car and rushed to the main city as I could not control my excitement anymore to go see La Tour d’Eiffel. He was such a gentleman to show me around each and every tourist attraction I so had to go visit.

Image

As I have already mentioned, our first stop was the Eiffel Tower. With city being so crowded, as it was Saturday anyway, we struggled for good 20-30 minutes for a parking space. The main centre of the town is always crowded with tourists and its best not to take your cars down those streets so we had to park a little outside of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. From there, we decided to walk towards Eiffel which turned out to be a great idea as I got to do some window shopping on the way. We’ll come back to Champs-Élysées later, ‘cause that is one of the most enchanting boulevard of luxury brands I have come across including Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia and Via Condotti in Rome. Every shop looks like a celebrity in itself, so describing it is going to take longer.

Anyway, back to the beautiful Eiffel, walking down the streets, my man would keep taking the mickey out of me. Every 5-10 minutes he would go, “Look look, Eiffel is right there !” and no, it wouldn’t be. I would look and then realize, I have just been made a fool again and for some reason he was finding it very funny. To tell me its right there, give me a little hope and then enjoy the expression of disappointment on my face, could apparently be quite fun. It might sound a bit mean on his part but well, I did that later to my younger brother who accompanied me once to Paris and yes, it was funny, probably from the other end of the joke where you get to laugh. LOL

We finally were there, right at the back of the tower, I still didn’t realize the next turn and the Eiffel would be really standing there. One of the most renowned structures of the world, ask anyone what comes to mind when I say Paris, and the answer would be ‘The Eiffel Tower’. It was right there, in front of us, standing tall showing off its magnificent engineering. Many people must be familiar with this that the initial plan was to have the tower up on a temporary basis for an exposition and to tear it down after. It’s hard to believe that the French used to find it hideous in the beginning, artists, painters, sculptures described it as the monstrous Eiffel dominating Paris’s untouched beauty. A preposterous mark on Paris which was not needed at all. I guess eventually the French just learnt to love it and it’s now the only tallest free-standing tower in Paris. What a captivating piece of architecture that is.

Looking up, through the center, the south pill...

Looking up, through the center, the south pillar of the Eiffel Tower, Paris.

Apologies for not keeping up with the pace. I have been occupied with some formalities with the Home Office. Boy is it hard to move around when you’re an Indian. Most of the historic heritage, which I am fonder of, is around Europe but every time I would want to go some place, the visa and the formalities as I am not from the EU. Acquiring visa is my new field expertise and the high commission is my new obsession…LOL. Bad joke, I’m writing at 12 o’clock midnight, what else would you expect. I do have my café avec moi so let’s get back to where we left it.

I was made familiar with the Eiffel when I think I was only 10 or 11 years old. My father brought me this little golden replica of Eiffel from when he went to Paris. He is a sailor and he has travelled almost the whole world on his ship, in his 36 years of career, and he still does. I believe that’s where I got this bug for travelling myself, ‘it’s in my blood’. Anyway, when he gave it to me, the looks of that tiny Eiffel was well enough for me to start dreaming about Paris and being there myself one day after all.

Looking up the tower from the centre it does look massive, which brought into light the ugly and very exhausting part of climbing this tall iron structure, more specifically, those never-ending stairs !!! God, the people there really do know how to make as much money as possible out of tourists. If you’re too lazy or in my case, just not capable of doing 1710 steps at a stretch, then you better be ready to spend good €8-€10 for every floor and every single time, going up or coming down, you choose the elevators instead of the stairs. Choosing the stairs does seem like a better idea but after the first two platforms, well, I couldn’t even breathe. I had to keep taking breaks every 10-15 minutes feeling like I might just faint. My man was lovely enough to agree with me to take the lift to the last and the top-most level, well, he didn’t really have much of a choice. With me struggling and complaining about the height as well, he had to, for his own sake..LOL

But did I mention, it was all worth it. The view from the top of the Eiffel is breathtaking, in one glance you can see the whole city. The beautiful Trocadéro Gardens of Palais de Chaillot on one side and the opposite is the bank of the river Siene, flowing mellow right next to Eiffel it passes by every remarkable monument in Paris including Notre-Dame and Musée du Louvre. And far far away, one can see the Sacré-Cœur standing as a vision in white behind the golden dome of Les Invalides, as they call it Dôme des Invalides. I couldn’t actually see it the first time I was there, or maybe I just wasn’t able to notice it as it was a little cloudy that day and the focus goes straight on the Dôme des Invalides ‘cause of its shiny reflective structure but the time I was there with my little brother, which was way better than the first time, the weather was great, the sky was clear and the wind was perfect, plus my baby got to share that experience with me. I love my little brother, he is a piece of my heart and seeing him so happy is always a very satisfying feeling. He smiles and my day lights up, bless him!! More about him and our Paris trip will come later when we’ll be at Disneyland, where dreams come true, well, I’d say almost come true, why so, will come back to that in a while.

I won’t ever forget that first time at the Eiffel and to make it more dramatic, my man just looks at me and says, “Hey you, give me a kiss”. It wasn’t really the kiss that I’ll remember more than the fact that a French man gave me French kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was a little epic for me since that was the first time I was in Paris, that was the first time I had been on the Eiffel and it felt magical, like, may be this is the reason why they call it “the City of Love”.

La Fête Nationale 2

La Fête Nationale 1

The night I landed in Paris…

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

 

A nighttime profile shot of the esplanade of L...

A nighttime profile shot of the esplanade of La Défense

 

 

Work in Manchester kept me occupied for good one month but somehow I managed to get away, one of the weekends, I just decided I need to go back to France…I need to go see Paris, it sounds like I was dating Paris but well, I am in love with that city so guilty as charged. So, I finally packed up my bags and got into that plane with just one thought, Oh My God, I am going to Paris!!!! LOL Funny as it sounds, it was a little weird to be more excited about the city than for the man who actually was the reason behind the visit. But oh well, as I said, I love Paris, wish I could be there capturing it all in my canvas and eat just bread & cheese without getting worried about bloating up like a balloon.

Anyway, I will always remember that flight though. When the aircraft, on the way to the airport for landing, was flying over the glamorous city of Paris all lit up in twinkling yellow lights, I could see the Eiffel as we flew over the main town to reach Charles De Gaulle. Oh that sight, that first sight of the Eiffel was magnificent. I cannot forget that little moment I had when I thought to myself, this is it, we’re landing in Paris after all, after 22 years of waiting I am finally going to be able to experience why are people so crazy about this city. Well, because everything in Paris is gorgeous.

Image

Late at night, when I arrived, the city looked even more beautiful as it does in the morning. I have always been more of a night owl than a morning person so I think that’s why maybe, to me it always looks more dreamy at night. Driving back to the hotel, I could see the Eiffel twinkling in its little lights, all sparkling up like stars, it did look like the Star of Paris.

It was not supposed to be that long a drive but traffic in Paris made it seem like ages. I did arrive quite late at night and it was already almost midnight but Paris was still wide awake. Those days used to be wonderful, arriving in Paris straight after work on a Friday night, the whole weekend still to go, music on the radio and the city’s lit-up spirit, it automatically would wipe off all the stress I’d have after a long week at work. I sure do miss those days.

Night after a day in the sun…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

The music in that club was different from what I was expecting, considering the varied crowd, it was leaning more towards the Latin style, which still was enjoyable. I just do not understand Latin or Spanish or Portuguese so I was only dancing to the tunes. The bartenders were quite fun though, suddenly, out of the blue, they all got up on the serving platform and started dancing in such good co-ordination. They seemed to enjoy it and so did we. It was like everyone was a part of the party, quite together sort of feeling. French are very welcoming anyway.

ballroom dance entertain gentle icon symbol

It was almost during all this when my friend, came to me to tell me that the man in the grey shirt would like to have a dance with you. Honestly, I do not like it when a person approaches you anywhere with a crude comment but it was quite elegant of him to ask me for a dance. He was from Paris itself and was keen to have a dance with me. My friend was sweet enough to be our little interpreter for the time being as he wouldn’t speak good English and I couldn’t speak good French back then. What a pickle that was, but we managed and it led to a formal date the next evening which, I am going to skip forward till the part where we were walking down the moonlight. It was a perfect date, dinner and drinks and a walk down the streets of the moonlit town of Montpellier. We could hear the local musicians playing, like in the background of a movie, while walking down the centre of the plaza close to the fountains.

Our date had to cut short though as I was leaving for Manchester the next morning itself. But he convinced me and took a promise that I shall come to Paris to visit him and fulfil a part of my dream to be in that city, for it’s been long overdue.

Paris, the way I saw it! Montpellier, Nîmes & Castries

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Paris, the city of love. My experience, where do I start. Well, I guess I shall begin from the beginning.

Romance brought me to Paris, maybe that’s why they call it “The City of Love”.

Paris Sunset from the Louvre window

Paris Sunset from Le Louvre window

Travelling across France through Nîmes & Marseille, our stay in Montpellier, was all I ever needed to go to Paris. A reason, a reason to visit this amazing city, otherwise people would have thought I am crazy to actually love Paris this much when I haven’t even visited the city.

Our trip started with Marseille in Cote d’Azur, where one of my lovely friends, resides with her family. What a lucky girl to live around the coast and enjoy the sun the way it was meant to be. Haha, I come from a country where temperature rises up to 48 degrees so that is not the kind of sun one can enjoy, probably that’s why I liked being in Cote d’Azur. With the beaches and the smell of the ocean, little droplets of sea water touching your face every once in a while is quite refreshing. Loved our stay there, was fabulous with my friend’s family and the barbeques, oh the barbeques.

Two whole days of chilling in the sun with perfectly roasted-grilled food was the head-start we were counting on to drive all the way to Nîmes. After all, if you’re so close to Montpellier, how could you skip that town? The historical city of Montpellier, preserved with its vintage ambience is something one just cannot afford to miss from so close. Plus we had my friend’s aunt living close to the town, in Nîmes. A beautiful little village named Castries, with a lot of cats surprisingly, which I do not mind, cats are fine, dogs are the ones that scare me.

But moving on, Castries, my friend’s aunt’s house was a beautiful little cottage. A wooden cottage with antiques’ decoration, again, a barbecue at the back which made us go, “fantastique” and a little garden in the front with rosemary, thyme & lavender growing. The smell of the herbs did make it quite obvious, it smells amazing, mostly lavender, even outside the house on the street. Our stay there wasn’t for long, another barbecue dinner which I am sure you all must know is great during summers with some absolute pure vintage French wine to go with it. Wow, even talking about it makes me want to go back as soon as I find some time off of work.

Barbecue 1Barbecue

After our lovely, catching-up with everyone, dinner, we headed straight to our hotel down town. It was a reasonable place to catch a good night’s sleep. Anyway, next morning we headed to town. The graffiti all over the town on the walls and streets really caught my eye. Some of them were quite captivating, like this one graffiti on the wall was a 3D painting of a building with huge windows and one of the glasses in the four quarters of a window pane had a light emerging out which actually was a real window. It might not sound as exciting as I found it at that point but you should see the picture, if it is much visible in there, it was quite stunning to see the actual work of art, live.

Graffiti Graffiti 1

Fun day though, great food, roaming around in the city, shopping, window-shopping, enjoying the sun & cool drinks on the go. Ooo, another thing I love about France are those little streets behind massive buildings, which you wouldn’t even expect would be there but when you discover them, it’s like there was a whole little world down this road I didn’t even realize was there. Some of the most authentic restaurants for food we chose were actually in streets such as them. Got the food, did the shopping, time to head back and get ready for a smashing night out. Yes, the night out, had to taste what a night out in France would be like. So, we were back in the hotel till 9pm, when we left for our sea-food dinner followed by a clubbing session in the Australian Café. Now one of my other passions, apart from food & travelling, is music. Following music around, everywhere round the globe is something I intend to do…well, when I can afford to, but it is one of my things in my wish-list which, by the way, also includes a Lamborghini Murciélago and a chopper. LOL