Travel reflections: Paris

3 11 2010

You can never go wrong with travel.

When Katie and I got married, we decided that any money we got as gifts would go into a separate bank account to be put towards future travels.

Sure, there’s always things we need or covet. But things come and go (especially televisions, which I tend to replace every two or three years). The memories and experiences of travel last a lifetime. It enriches your mind and feeds your soul. It can spark your creativity and challenge your comfort zone.

And as we fall back into the routine of our day-to-day lives back in New Westminster, we can always reflect on our time away from home as we battle the ever-present traffic frustration that plagues this corner of the world, we can lose ourselves in the photos from our trips as the winter rains pelt off the windows.

Ahhh, vive le Paris...

Our stop in Paris was my third visit, Katie’s second. I love everything about the city, and about France. And I love the French.

I love their sense of style and presence, which seems to happen so naturally, so effortlessly. I love their attention to detail, the care they take to put on a good show, whether it’s the simple elegance of their street signs, to the amazing stained glass ceiling at Galleries Lafayette to the way the vendors stack their fruit in the market shops along the Rue Mouffetarde. And I love their passion; we may have spent our short stay there dodging strikes and protests, but I respect their fight to stand up for the rights and lifestyle they believe in.

I alway have to laugh when reading in forums the desperate pleas for advice from travelers looking to maximize the number of museums and sites they want to visit when they get to Paris: “I’m only going to be there two days; is it possible to see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, take a boat ride on the Seine, tour Versailles, visit Notre Dame AND shop on the Champs Elysée in one afternoon?”

Over the course of our visits, we’ve managed to accomplish all those things, but the true joy of Paris is to just experience it by walking its streets, visiting its various arrondissements, spending time sipping chocolate chaud on the outdoor terraces (or in the cafés, if it’s cold), riding the Metro, listening to the conversations in French going on around us.

As our time this visit to Paris was so brief (and made even briefer by the rail strike in Belgium), that’s pretty much what we did. We revisited some favorite spots, like the Rue Mouffetard, the Champs Elysée and the Opera district to Gallerie Lafayette. We spent more time to further explore the narrow lanes and pitched cobbles of Montemarte, and we explored a new arrondissement, the Marais, which used to have a bit of a seedy reputation but is now revived with fancy little boutiques and the very comprehensive (and free) Museum of Paris.

We walked. A lot. We stopped for chocolat chaud and patisseries. We window shopped and just shopped. We people-watched.

And now that the restaurants and cafés of Paris are smoke-free, it’s so much more pleasant to just linger.

Click on the photo to experience Paris in October with us.

The pleasures of being in Paris lie in just being in Paris