Friday, July 9, 2010
I first came to Paris when I was 12-years-old on a family vacation. That's when I fell in love with the city. While I remember I was disappointed when I realized that cars don't drive on the opposite side of the street in Paris, everything else amazed me - even the unrefrigerated milk! I have vivid memories from that trip. One in particular is going on the Ferris wheel that left me filled with wonderment looking over Paris rooftops in all directions. Monet's gardens, Normandy, Versailles...it all stuck with me. While visiting Paris twice since college I found myself drawn to the pace of the city. Somehow, Parisians manage to be high-strung and laid-back all at the same time. Life moves fast here, yet there is always time to enjoy an espresso at the neighborhood brasserie.
I went back to Monet's gardens in Giverny about an hour outside of Paris. Though it was an oppressively hot day, the canvases of Monet's water lilies came alive as we walked through the gardens he loved to paint.
King Louis XIV's lived in the Louvre Palace before he moved out to Versailles. I attended a wine tasting in his private cellar underneath the Louvre that was really interesting. When asked what we want to gain from the class my response was how to pick out tasty but inexpensive wine - I'm on a tour guide budget these days so 4 euros bottle is about all I'll spring for...and luckily in France you can get great wine for that price. I'll pass along a tidbit I learned, do not buy cheap Bordeaux.
I'm a professional picnicer these days. Not only are the surroundings beautiful, spending time en plein air means I spent less from mon wallet. There are so many wonderful places in Paris to have picnics and relax and read and people-watch. Picnicing is a way of life for Parisians. If you haven't been on a picnic - do it. Go get a baguette from your neighborhood store, some different cheeses, lunch meat, grapes, carrots, hummus and of course wine and go on a picnic. Slow the pace of your life, if even just for an evening and spend time en plein air.
Ernest Hemingway wrote "if you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." I feel very lucky, and know the experiences I'm having this summer will stay with me.