Tag Archives: Eiffel Tower

Friday in Five: Time to fly

2 Sep

Oh, Paris, it gets harder and harder to leave you – but tomorrow I’m headed home to my own beautiful place, with fresh memories to tide me over.

I’ll always have my old favourites, like dinner at Polidor, where Ernest Hemingway’s napkin still resides, and the elegant and gracious Place des Vosges, my “go-to” for reflecting, people-watching and writing. And I have to be out at least one night on the hour, to watch Madame Eiffel dispense her sparkly love over the city:

 

But this week, I was on the hunt for new discoveries and, as always, Paris didn’t disappoint!

Fans!

Who knew? I packed one in my handbag mostly just because I found it while looking for my passport and decided I should try and get some use out of it. Then I arrived in Paris and found that fans are as “right now” as they’ve ever been. At the opera, in the cathedral, on the metro. Painted, tasselled, ruffled. Featuring Mona Lisa, Montparnasse and Monet.

FanMy cheapie, picked up in Hong Kong a decade ago, got a serious workout and started to fray, so I’ve updated it with this lace beauty, handmade by the artisans of Bruges. Elegant, effective, lightweight – and not just for Paris, I’ve decided!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s dance!

Wander along the Seine on any summer evening and you’ll have to pick your way between all the picnickers enjoying a balmy twilight with their baguettes and vin rouge. But on certain nights in certain spots you might stumble upon a more romantic way to see in the sunset!

And still on the dance theme…

In a little boutique near Palais Garnier I found this gorgeous window full of used pointe shoes, with brief messages from their former owners. Such a simple display; so many dreams realised and, perhaps, broken. Ballet, mBallet shoesusic, storytelling – these were things I’d forgotten mattered, from my youngest years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tucked away in the Marais…

Wandering through almost any arrondissement in Paris you’ll find alleys and courtyards and passages – and doors! So many beautiful doors! I could dedicate a whole blogpost to the mysterious and magical doors of Paris.

PassageI’d seen plenty of ornate passages in previous visits, but tucked away in the Marais I found this beautiful, open, airy passage filled with wonderful stores. What I loved most, though, was the trailing vines which, with the soaring glass walls and ceilings, suggested a tropical haven in the middle of this most chic of cities.

 

 

 

 

 

And magnificent Magnum!

Finally, emerging from the back of the Marais and its little streets of synagogues and historical libraries of ancient artifacts and quiet, shady rose gardens, I saw the temptation to end all temptations: Paris’s divine Magnum store. My photo does it no justice, so I’ve included this link so you can view the magnificence yourself.Magnum

To be honest, with all the sequins and glitter and precious metals paraded in the shopfront windows, I was too intimidated to go in (and anyway, I was running a little late for a concert, which is a much more acceptable excuse for my gutlessness!).

I’m not a huge fan of ice-cream, and particularly not ice cream that comes in a packet on a stick, but the window displays were drool-worthy in their own right.

 

 

 

And so: some new favourites from Paris, off my usual beaten and beloved tracks. But that’s one of the things I love about this city – there are surprises and delights literally on every street, and it makes me somehow bigger and braver when I return to my Real Life.

And that’s what I’ll do tomorrow… but now I’m off to Opera Bastille for opening night of the American Ballet Theatre’s The Sleeping Beauty – and I’ll report back on that next week, if only to keep my Paris summer magic alive a little longer!

Au revoir,

Gracie x

City of Light, City of Art, City of Amitié

2 Oct

Ten years ago I was sitting beside a pool in Valencia, explaining to a woman I’d never before met that I’d laid in my hotel bed the evening before, dressed in every garment I had with me, shaking and shivering through Spain’s sweltering summer night.

“You were in shock,” she said.

Yes, I was. But right at that moment, the bigger shock was that I’d confided my vulnerability to a complete stranger. I’m not that kind of person. I don’t conduct personal poolside conversations exposing my fears and misfortunes to people I don’t know at least very, very well. And yet, there I was.

Because Amanda is that kind of person. We had a few more days in Valencia, me travelling back and forth to Madrid to try and replace the travel documents I’d lost during a mugging, her sharing her son and her kindness with my own young son who’d been equally traumatised by the fairly brutal experience and his mother’s resulting stress.

And then we never saw each other again. A rich, deep connection – it seemed too brief to call it a friendship, though that’s what it felt like and that’s what it meant to me – evaporated with time and distance. We wrote occasional messages on Facebook, and mirrored each others’ experiences as single mothers, and the years passed.

I booked this trip to Paris, knowing what I really, really needed after a challenging year was three weeks entirely on my own. Out of the blue, Amanda invited herself along – just for a few days, she was just across the pond after all. I wasn’t sure, but I said yes anyway. And then she wasn’t sure, but she said yes anyway. And it turned out that the very last thing I really, really needed was three weeks entirely on my own.

Healer, artist, friend – Amanda is again working her magic on my soul. It can’t be coincidence – can it? – that for a second time, she’s arrived to take me in hand when I’ve been fragile and fearful. We’ll have only a short time together again, and I hope she gains as much as she gives from her time in my little Paris apartment.

Yesterday we took a long walk to the Tour Eiffel. Amanda wanted to sketch it. When we finally made it home, she wanted to paint it. And this morning, she’d almost finished it. Almost, but not quite. To see the final, quirky, clever result, drop in to her website.

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But give us a few more days first, to talk…

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