When I left Paris for Easter weekend, the weather was distinctly ordinary, work was distinctly ordinary, and I was desperate for my long weekend at home. I had 21st birthdays to celebrate, and was very much looking forward to our traditional Morrell/Dorning Easter egg hunt before Easter Sunday lunch.
Well, rather unexpectedly my weekend at home turned into ten days, during which I was lucky enough to see not only the extended MorDor clan, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, and some of my delightful Durham crowd.
After a break at home, returning to Paris and returning to work was a seriously daunting prospect. But within two minutes of standing on the platform at Gare du Nord, as the sun was setting and the thermometer reached 22°C, I was reminded quite how much I love the city. Yeah, my job is average, but not only is it paying for my summer, it’s an excellent excuse to live in a city as beautiful and vibrant as this one.
I’ve spent my first couple of days back revisiting my favourite spots. Soph and I grabbed dinner at Le Petit Cambodge, and had a good long catch up. “Little Cambodia” is a great place for authentic food just a couple of minutes from the Canal, and we chatted over bò bún as the street-side bars only got busier. Everyone who says New York is the city that never sleeps obviously hasn’t spent time in Paris during the summer.
Saturday I walked from my place in the 16th across the river and along the Berges du Seine on the Left Bank, up to the Champ du Mars. Well, it turns out the world and his wife thought that was a good idea as well, particularly seeing as picnic season has officially begun.
So, to avoid fighting for blanket space on the lawns in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, I carried on walking along the banks. All along the river, from the Musée Quay Branly to the Pont Alexandre III, the city has set up fun installations: ping pong tables set in disused skips, archery for little kids (I steered clear of it – infants and arrows?), parkour lessons with guys teaching you to jump and throw yourself between bars, and lots of green spaces with hammocks stretched out over the Seine.
I then strolled across the bridge at Solferino, and into the stunning Tuileries Gardens. Last time I was there, the pruned trees were brown, the leaves withered, and the sandy alleyways almost deserted. Now that summer has arrived, the trees are a bright spring green and every single one of the chairs I walked past was occupied.
I finally nipped into the Musée de l’Orangérie, too, to see Monet’s water lilies. They were spectacular. Presented in two oval-shaped rooms that make use of diffused natural light, the enormous canvases are simply stunning and incredibly peaceful, if you can ignore the shutter noises and hushed babbling of tourists around you. I spent a lot of time just perched in front of my favourite, Les Deux Saules.
Walking among the flocks of people from the Orangerie up to the Louvre, I then nipped right, back to the river, and followed it along the quais to Pont Neuf, where I crossed back to Ile de la Cité for a break in the Place Dauphine. Except on this beautiful Saturday there was nowhere to sit and rest – even the crowds reached the normally undisturbed square. Each of the pavement cafes had large crowds in front of them, and those waiting for a table passed the time playing pétanque, which is no longer the game of Gauloise-smoking elderly men, but the bon-chic-bon-genre young professional Parisians (who still smoke Gauloises).
I finished my “flanerie” with an ice cream from Berthillon – rhubarb sorbet and praline-amaretto. Consumed on the Pont de la Tournelle, with Notre Dame in front of me, it was an ideal end to my first “proper” day of life in Paris since my return.
I’ve picked up a cough and wasn’t up for going out – instead preferring to bake cinnamon cookies, do a face mask and watch Grey’s Anatomy re-runs (I need an intervention, stat!). But, after sleeping in late on Sunday morning, I crossed town to meet Lauren for coffee and a catch up in the sun. We chatted and chatted at a sunny pavement café in Le Marais, before picking a spot on Ile Saint Louis to dangle our feet over the wall and people-watch as the Parisians take advantage of the stunning weather and beautiful city that they live in.
Walking home with a fresh baguette under my arm, it’s a wonder how I was ever desperate to leave in the first place.
Bisous, à la prochaine. X
Chanson du Jour: Walkin’ Man by Seasick Steve