Why didn't you TELL me about Paris?

Absolutely delightful tiny apartment, rue des Archives, heart of Paris, Autumn



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It’s so beautiful I feel like weeping. The light in Paris this afternoon was gut-wrenching. The sun lingered low in the sky, muted, warm, hovering between golden and peach hues catching the most wonderous stonework, bridges, statues, rooves, pathways, cobbled roads, River Seine, and Eiffel Tower. A wound in the mauve clouds, edged with gold, let fingers of light through to drive one crazy. This city is like the opening performance for which every city I’ve ever been in up until now has been merely a rehearsal. What do people do if they see Paris first??



I settled in after a truly joyous introduction to the apartment by its very French owner...nested immediately, studied a map, tucked it into my bag just in case, and decided to aim for Notre Dame Cathedral then the Eiffel Tower for a good walk and a chance to get my bearings. Four hours later I’m back and still shaking my head. I used a lot of swear words and God’s name in vain constantly. In a good way. I couldn’t believe what my eyes kept finding. I could not believe the feel of this wonderful place.

This morning in Poitiers ...

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...was filled with last minute packing, buying chocolate croissants, waving good bye to the cat in the window across the way, and after a quick last sweep, trundling by taxi to the station to catch the TGV (very fast train) up to Paris. I entered Poitiers backwards, and left the same way. Suddenly we were in Paris. It was very fast.

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The organisation through whom I’ve rented my little apartment suggested I could book a car and driver to wait for me at the station, ring the owner to let him know we were on our way, and carry my bags up the stairs. I decided to book one, not for any of that, but because for one time in my life I’d get to be the person whose name is written on that card being held by somebody at an airport or station.

It was worth it.

When I visit a new place, it’s the people and the back gardens and alleyways and the detail that I love the best. I’m not so interested in the sights. Today, though, I actually felt a bit excited when I decided to head out and aim for the Eiffel Tower. When Van Gough’s Irises came to Australia, I was at the Art Gallery to see something else, and almost didn’t go to see it because you had to pay to get in ( maybe $4 - I am very cheap ) and I’d seen pictures of it so many times I certainly wasn’t going to be impressed. But I was. It was absolutely beautiful. Paint live does things that prints of paint don’t convey. And the frame itself was a wonder of the world.

It happened again today. I was more excited than I’d expected at the prospect of seeing the Eiffel Tower, very excited when I caught my first glimpse, and blown away getting closer and closer then actually standing under it. I had no idea it is so beautiful. I had no idea it would be so exciting to be there, even though it was essentially designed for and has always been for tourists. My first thought...the ironwork is beautiful...my second thought...it’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge on end...steel girders, rivets, lots of structure...and big. I also had no idea it would have such a halo of communications stuff on the top. I wonder if the Statue of Liberty has such stuff on her crown too, these days?...

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I gave some coins to a woman who was begging - she looked like a caricature of a woman begging and I wondered if she were genuine or a con artist or an actor...I was happy to share, whatever the case.

Vendors have boxes fixed to the railing along the Seine...lots of secondhand books, miniature Eiffel Towers, art deco postcards, original oil paintings (hmmmm...)...the books not junk but classics and genuinely antiquarian.

A man was dusting the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Booksellers read ( what do they read?) while waiting for custom. Is the beret genuine or for tourists? Japanese commercial being shot at twilight; what kind of hatstand do you find in the Louvre?


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There’s a cat across the way...we said hello, but this one plays on a ledge two floors up. I can’t look.


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Tomorrow I may just sit somewhere and smile.