A Night in Paris, France- City of Light
My First Night in the City of Light
My first night in Paris was energized by pure adrenaline as I had only arrived that morning which was already like 3 P.M. for me. Flying through the night over the Atlantic I received very little sleep on the six hour flight from the US, and I had been up since 7 or 8 A.M., (July 4th), the morning of departure. Upon arrival in the city, the excitement, glamour and romance in the air left me with little thought of sleep, until 11 P.M. that night while dining at a restaurant in Montemartre (more on this later...). Being early July, sunset in Paris was well after 10 P.M. Ahh, the city of light.
Early evening we walked along the river Seine and enjoyed observing the many different cultures of people, university students, families leisurely relaxing with picnics, musicians playing music, partners dancing, those of us walking and listening to the city, enjoying Paris from the great river's perspective. We stopped to relax and have a drink of Perrier on a stationary river barge, a quaint place to stop and have a beverage or light snack. It also gave me time to rest my sore feet, (already), because I chose to wear sandals with chic wooden heels, and they were not cobblestone friendly! I do remember my friend looking down at my feet before we left that evening and he politely said, "you are wearing these shoes?" His polite way of saying, do not wear those shoes. But I had to wear those shoes, it was Paris on a summer night.
It was very nice to sit back and enjoy the quietness of the river and breathe in this city's history and stories, her life. Charles V once described Paris as 'not a city, but a world'. I could feel this world all around me. It was like I was being embraced by culture itself. The Seine cuts through the middle of Paris, making itself the city's widest avenue. It separates the Right Bank and the Left Bank. It is spanned by 37 bridges which offer some of the most beautiful views and entertainment venues of Parisian culture. Three of the bridges are pedestrian only.
The Magnificent Rose Window of Notre Dame
Notre Dame de Paris- The Great Cathedral
We made our way to the magnificent Gothic cathedral which is open until 6:45 p.m. It sits on the Ile de la Cite, in the heart of the city. I was so overwhelmed with it's architectural grace that I simply stood in awe and looked upward at the twin towers which reach proudly to meet the sky.
The three massive front doors are each distinctive with exquisitely detailed medieval architectural illustrations. The left portal is the Portal of the Virgin, which depicts the ark of the covenant and the coronation of the Virgin. The middle door is the Portal of the Last Judgment, showing the Resurrection and the wearisome souls on their procession to heaven or hell. The door on the right is the Portal of St. Anne which portrays the Virgin and Maurice de Sully. Above these magnificent doors is the famous Rose Window. It depicts the Virgin and Child in rich reds and glorious blues, and is in itself a miracle of engineering.
When we went inside I immediately knew I was in a very sacred place. It is said that angels live there. I felt a presence that calmed me, enveloped me with it's peace. My friend and I sat in one of the pews; we sat in silence and he squeezed my hand when he knew what I was feeling. Tears streamed down my face, as I was awed by the magnificence and beauty and historical significance which was before me. We toured the rest of the cathedral, standing for a while in the sanctuary where the candles were lit, and looked up at the beautiful stained glass windows. I have a link below from which you can discover more about Notre Dame and it's seven centuries of magnificence.
If you have read Are French Men More Romantic, you know that this was a romantic trip for me. As we were walking through Paris, there were numerous, spontaneous shows of affection, romantic gestures and heavily French accented utterances with the word, 'darling', and 'so beautiful' interspersed between kisses and those lovely embraces. Remember, I'm on a cloud at this point, as I should have been extremely weary, but not yet. The evening is still young.
Pont des Arts and Institute de France
Academie Francaise and the Pont des Arts
We made our way to the very famous pedestrian bridge, the Pont des Arts which links the Institute de France and the central square of the grand Musee de Louvre. This particular area of Paris is central to the many art galleries, museums, cafes which make up the great literary and arts scene that personifies Paris as the intellectual capital of the world, the left bank.
Before walking across the bridge we stood in front of the magnificent Institute de France which is home to the Academie Francaise. A highly regarded group of 40 members called, Immortals, have the responsibility of preserving and safeguarding the French language and compiling the dictionary of the French language. They attempt to protect the French language from the onslaught of Franglais, (French words characterized by borrowings from English), words such as jogging and marketing, but these words have very common usage in France. Victor Hugo, Louis Pasteur, Voltaire were among a few of the notable immortals.
The Silver Mime
We then walked over to the Pont de Arts, where there were many people crowding around a musician who was singing and engaging the people with his performance. There were many people, both young and old, Parisians and visitors from all over the world. We also saw a mime, and let me tell you, he was not just an ordinary mime with a white face and the very proper red and white striped clothing; he was a shiny silver mime covered from the top of his head to his shoes. His face was silver, every part of him was silver, and he was delightful! The entertainment on the bridge is completely free, and while there is no obligation or mention of $, one can throw in some coins if they wish. The Pont des Arts is used for art exhibitions, entertainment, as a studio for artists, en plein air painters, musicians and photographers. It is a "must experience" on your trip to Paris.
Musee de Louvre at Sunset
Paris: City of Art
Outside the Louvre
The Musee de Louvre is closed at night but we were able to walk through the central square and surrounding courtyards. It is breathtakingly magnificent! We stood and listened to two beautiful university students singing Italian opera. It was lovely beyond words. We stopped to sit by a fountain and I was overwhelmed being surrounded by such architectural beauty and history, realizing where I was sitting. The Louvre is the Palace of the Muses, the grand museum that reaches her heart out to the world to come and taste her magnificence.
Sacre de Couer and Montmartre
By the time we made it to Montmartre, it was dark, which was perfect. We climbed the hill which led to the steps of the basilica of Sacre- Coeur. It is a beautiful white building of the Roman-byzantine style which is in contrast to the gothic architecture of Notre Dame. There were many people sitting on the hill, on the steps, along the path overlooking the city full of lights. There were people strumming guitars, sipping wine, enjoying the best (free) view of Paris. It was so peaceful and light-hearted, full of laughter and fun.
We made our way down the very narrow cobblestone streets which were full of shops of every kind. A man walked up to me and gave me a rose and I thought, 'how lovely'. But then I saw that he simply did this to every woman with a man, as a way of making money. We walked into the square where a few artists had their easels set up and this was the area where many years ago, the famous artists would sit at their easels and draw and paint and sell their work. It was very quaint and full of character.
It was around 11 p.m. when we made it to L'Ete en Pente Douce in Montmartre. I had never seen so many Vespas in one place. There were people sitting outside and we decided to go inside near the open windows. Now it started to hit me and I realized that I was very tired. I was so happy to be there, finally in Paris with my wonderful friend, but now it hit me hard. As I was eating, I'll never forget a few moments when everything overwhelmed me. Everyone around me was speaking French, I was in a country I had never been in before, I was exhausted and my feet hurt. So as not to spoil this amazing first night in Paris, we decided to finish eating and drive home. And then the night still wasn't over. C'est tout.
Additional Paris Links
- Paris Travel guide
Paris is one of my favourite European destinations. Here you will find all you need to know about Paris from the best writers at HubPages.
- Cathdrale Notre Dame de Paris
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is happy to welcome you: pilgrims, Christians, visitors from all over the world,
Paris, City of Light.. and Love.
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