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Published: April 2nd 2014
It was the last day of winter when I left her. It wasn’t anything she did; I just needed to move along. She was everything you could want and was easy to love. She kept me warm on many a winter night. She was beautiful, passionate and very romantic. The long nights on the river are unforgettable. And the food! I never ate so well in my life. A real Renaissance kind of girl you could say. I guess I don’t have to feel too bad. She has lots of other admirers and I know she won’t lack attention for long after I’m gone.
It wasn’t her, it was me. I wanted something new. Maybe a little more refined and complicated. I needed knowledge to go with the looks. You know the type. Studious, businesslike. All work and politics during the day, but once the lights go out at night… the party starts. There is a reason that all the artists, authors and celebrities love her and seem to be pulled toward her. I wasn’t going to give up on the food or the long walks by the river either. This time I wanted it all. Spring was
here and it was time for a change. Riding the bus wasn’t good enough anymore. I wanted to move up to the metro.
Yeah, we left Rome and went to Paris…..
It was a bit of a sad ride to the Fiumicino Airport on the outskirts of Rome. We had a great time in Rome, but were excited to be off to Paris. Neither of us had been to Paris in the past and had been studying like crazy for the last couple of days so we could hit the ground running.
It was a quick 2 hour flight and we moved through Orly airport easily. No need for immigration. Once you’re in the EU you’re good to go. We allowed 3 hours after arriving to meet our new landlord at our Montmartre apartment. It turned out we could have made it easy in 2.
The cab was almost as expensive as the budget airline ticket that got us to Paris. We could have taken the Metro, but with heavy bags we decided it was just too hard. We had toured lots of our new neighborhood on Googlemaps
before arriving and it was exciting to start seeing places we recognized.
We took the tiny, rickety elevator up the 6 floors to our new apartment. Even though the 3 of us barely fit in the elevator, I have to admit it was nice to be riding upstairs after living in a 5th
floor walkup in Rome for a month. Paris is quite expensive and we went for about the cheapest place we could find. It was kind of hard to picture what 140 square feet would look like. 5 steps that way by 3 steps that way. Didn’t seem possible to fit everything we needed into such a small package.
The apartment was a little shocking at first. It is really small. After the landlady wished us luck, we started to look around and actually discovered it was well appointed. We had plenty of dishes and satellite TV. The internet was pretty good. If we leaned out our floor to ceiling window at just the right angle, we could see out over the roofs of Paris. The wooden floors were creaky and the walls were paper thin, but we look out over a
courtyard and you know, it’s Paris. The fold out sofa bed is unbelievably comfortable. The stores and laundry are virtually next door and it’s a block to the Metro. Perfect!
We spent a couple of days getting used to the Metro (which is excellent). Everyone rides it and it goes everywhere. We enjoy attempting to pronounce the names of the upcoming stations and comparing our guess with the automated ladies voice that announces on the train. After 10 days we’re at least getting a little closer. There are lots of unnecessary letters in French.
We live in the Montmartre neighborhood, just down the hill a little from the famous Sacre Coeur church that overlooks all of Paris. It is a wonderful neighborhood at night filled with cafes and restaurants. Montmartre drew all the famous artists before the First World War. Picasso, Monet, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec all roamed these streets at one time. Now the streets and alleys surrounding the church are generally filled with tourists, but a little down the hill, where we live, it is a little quieter and more local oriented.
Like New York, Paris is filled with iconic
names and places that don’t need a lot of study. The Latin Quarter, Left Bank and Saint Germain des Pres are all well-known artist and author locales. Montparnasse is beautiful and filled with the most beautiful cafes. Luxembourg Gardens and the islands in the middle of the Seine are classic. Hemingway lived or drank here; Julia Child learned to cook there, even a café where Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had coffee with their morning omelet. The Marais and Grand Boulevards are filled with wonderful shops and grand mansions from many eras. The opera house is indeed Grand. Looking over the entire area is, of course, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
When the lights come on at night the city changes completely and justifies the nickname “City of Light”. Carousels turn and spotlights come on to light the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. The alleys take on a beautiful glow from the abundant neon and streetlights. Cafes bustle and the fashionable people walk everywhere.
The food is to die for. Pastries, bread, produce and meat markets are everywhere. The smells from the bakeries are hard to resist. The condiments
look delicious even if you don’t know what they are. The vendors all seem to wear aprons and have characteristic faces from the movies. The cafes are filled with well-dressed patrons enjoying small plates of food or tiny, steaming cups of light brown coffee. We love looking in the windows of the ornate Brasseries, imagining the diners having intimate conversations over glasses of wonderful wine.
Paris is beautiful and we are happy to be here. I hated to leave my first love in Rome and although I really can’t afford my new girlfriend, some things may be worth going into debt for. Turn the lights on bright, I’m ready for my walk by the river now….
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