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Paris a city for all
Watching a city like Paris, it is easy to appreciate why, the millions of visitors, are amazed at just how diverse and generous enough the city is to satisfy everyone. There is no other city on this earth that one can compare to the romance, sophistication and down right seductive character that Paris has to offer. After all, how many other places can you name that have been the epicentre of so many meditative poems and influxuatingly evocative canvases. The city has visitors wondering why they haven't been lured by its mystique before. Whilst Paris is renowned for its immense wealth and creative flare, the greatest masterpiece of all has to be the city itself!
There's a magical appeal to just walking through Paris' broad avenues as they sweep from impressive public buildings and museums to blissful esplanades and gardens. Walking the streets of Charenton-le-pont, you can soak up the rich and plentiful Parisian culture that seems to be pumped around like lifeblood for the city. In the Montmatre, avenues like arteries lead up to the magnificent guardian and heart of the city, The Le Sacré Coeur. Standing beneath its grandeur as dusk falls, you can witness the magic of the tens of thousands of lights flickering on in the seeping darkness as it flows down through the streets. I stood contemplating the ancient wisdom that lay there before me; the millions of footsteps that had echoed over time on what seemed to be the stairway to heaven.
The most fascinating, yet trivial, time has got to be going to the riverside on Sunday afternoons for the true French experience. Traditional country music is played on an antique accordion with locals and visitors merging as one to the hypnotising sound. As the rippling water accompanies the constant hymn-like breath of the accordion, conversations blend in harmony with the surroundings, leaving observers to savour a hustle and bustle so different from the inertia of a British brunch and lie in. The ambiance will make even the most cynical of Brits long for a slower day.
In the blissful ignorance of being surrounded by the peace and quiet of the city, all eyes are drawn to the ultimate icon of romance. The Pièce de résistance, la tour d' Eiffel, stands as a monument to Victorian aspiration. As people stop and stare at it in all its glory, the height factor becomes inescapable and you begin to wonder at what level altitude sickness will set in. Rising to the summit, the platform greets you with open arms, inviting you to look out over the expanse of man made beauty and to flirt with the stars.
Walking hand in hand along the banks of the River Seine, I felt I'd walked this scene a thousand times before. The arching bridges and ageing stone architecture appeared to have sprung from the shimmering surface of the water. Savouring the aromas emanating from the tiny cafés and coffee shops lining the route, my imagination eagerly anticipated all that would soon hit my taste buds. The quality compared to that of the British burger and chips makes anyone adventurous enough to try out the local cuisine.
The artistic rhythm is felt no matter where you end up, but no more so than the Place du Tertre, the hang out artists. As the artists set up their precious easels, its subtle reminder that this once was the pilgrimage of modern art. Picasso started his career as a mere street painter on this vibrant square. Now, strolling around the square, it is home to an abundance of artists, street painters and caricature cafés, all lapping in culture and style. Peering over the shoulder of an artist makes the temptation to get a portrait even more irresistible, the quality and style bemuses many.
One can lose one's self amongst the magnificent portraits and paintings that seem to be the window to another world in the Louvre, Paris' palace of art and the world’s most renowned gallery. As far as I can tell it would take weeks or maybe months to get around it. The sculptures and statues twisted and fought for viewer’s eyes into, what sometimes seemed impossible positions. The glass pyramid entrance looks almost out of place in the city but like everything else, it adds to the character. The high and decorated ceilings make spending time in the Louvre a breathtaking experience. It leaves one savouring the assault on ones senses.
As its weathered gargoyles stare out over the city, the Notre Dame retains every bit of it's elegance that it had on the day of its birth. The rustic cathedral displays a grace that is the antithesis of its most famous inhabitant. The artwork and skill built into the magnificence with every brick is a compliment to its architectures and creators. The magnitude of colour that meets the eye from every angle literally takes the breath away. How such a beauty withstood the beating from the French revolution is quite the miracle that is bestowed upon the enterers of the Gothic palace. Like the centrepiece to a feast, the rose window is long awaited and poignant. As the sun light hits the stained glass the crevasses are filled with a blaze of warmth. From the outside, pedestrians look skywards to find the radiating central sphere peering out like God's eye surveying from the soul of Paris.
A visit to Paris really is an affair of the heart. By leaving, our heart strings are pulled and the deep longing to stay erupts into the desperation for the love affair not to end. Like leaving a lover, maybe it is more appropriate to depart saying a strong felt “A bientôt”... see you soon.