Sunday, January 3, 2010

first impressions

Okay, you guessed it, j'adore Paris! We arrived yesterday afternoon via the Eurostar and it was love at first sight. I am staying in the 7e arrondissement, by the Tour Eiffel. The area is incredibly charming, with so many little food stores, a gourmet market down the street, and lots of restaurants and cafés. Last night we ate at a lovely brasserie (I had delicious Normandy style veal scallop) and then bought dessert at an adorable pâtisserie on the way home (a to-die-for chocolate crème éclair).

Today I walked the streets of Paris. It was absolutely freezing (the temperature was 2 to -6) but I was so excited that I didn't feel cold (although I will need go shopping for some more layers tomorrow!) I saw the Musée du Louvre, Pont Alexandre III, Palais Garnier, Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysées and, of course, the Tour Eiffel. I will revisit each of them individually during the week to explore them further. I did delve into the breathtaking Notre Dame. There was a mass in progress and although I am not at all religious, I was riveted. The architecture is magificent, especially the exquisite stained glass windows, which invokes both tranquillity and awe.

I was warned that Paris is not as beautiful as it is in pictures; that it is dirty and the people are unfriendly. Well, I respectfully disagree - Paris is just as striking, picturesque and welcoming as I could have imagined. Each of the landmarks I have encountered are amazing, and the buildings in between, although not so grand, are, in the least, quaint and charming. I have not found Paris to be dirty at all - it is not spotless (and people do not seem to clean up after their dogs' public messes) but its cleanliness is comparable to most other cities I have been, including Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Definitely nothing to complain about! I have not found the people unfriendly at all; the waiters are all extremely lovely (a lot more so than in Australia!) and the shopkeepers, although none I have encountered speak English, were very patient and gracious toward my family.

Quite simply, Paris is the perfection I expected it to be, and I am hopelessly* in love!

* Or helplessly? Hopelessly sounds too morbid, yet helplessly just doesn't sound right! Insert the correct word here, please. I should know this!

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