Fall in Paris is hard to describe. It is no different from home in that the leaves fall from the trees in vibrant colors of yellow, red, orange, and speckled green; the wind blows with a chill that makes you grab a pair of gloves, a hat and a scarf on your way out the door; you are forced to put those oh so cute sandals that you wore all summer away to hibernate for the upcoming winter; you reach for a warm cup of Joe rather than a refreshing cold beverage to quench your thirst; the smell of a wood burning fireplace lingers in your nostrils; holiday decorations begin to peek their heads out of their 10 month slumber; and there is a quite hush that takes over the city in the blustery evenings. But (actually a HUGE but), there is just something different about Paris.
Maybe it’s the way those ornate terraces catch the shadows of the overcast fall sky when the sun peeks through for that split moment. Or how the lights flicker along the Seine and those monstrous monuments when the sun lays down to rest along the horizon. Or how the cobblestone streets become even more vibrant and lustrous when they contrast against the bright leaves piled on top of them…
All I know is that there is a serene darkness that is cast over this city in the fall weeks that I cannot quite describe. It’s not a darkness in one of those creepy Edgar Allan Poe sorts of ways, but rather a darkness with a warmth that seems familiar, comfortable, even calming. You just feel, hmm. At peace. It is a peace so relevant that I well up with tears when I take a moment to stand still and listen to the sounds of the leaves whoosh in the wind, or the footsteps of the Parisians bustling around me, or the French language as it glides off the tongue, or the toots and beep, beeps from the cars as they swerve around pedestrians who cross in their path. Fall in Paris has most certainly and quite quickly become my favorite season of all.
Lucky enough for me this year, this fall, in this moment in my lifetime, I get a chance to spend over a month in Paris during the onset of fall. As I sit here in this full of commotion Starbucks (of all places…really?!) listening to the holiday sounds of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett while writing, and waiting for Rachel to arrive, I watch passers-by out the window, and I am over run with emotion. Tears cling to the edges of my lower eyelids, as I take a moment to once again reflect on the magnitude of the past 5 weeks. It is hard to describe what a moment you’ve waited your whole life for feels like. It is overwhelming. It is joyous. It is eccentric. It is bewildering. It is precious.
Never in my life will I EVER regret this moment. I will forever be grateful for all those who supported me in getting here, and I will forever remember the strength that overtook me to take this leap of faith. Thank you Paris…
And now for the post…
On Wednesday the sun broke long enough for my Mom and I to take a stroll along the winding paths at the base of La Tour Eiffel. We gawked over the last of the leaves as they desperately clung to their branches before falling to their final resting place. We sat in stillness with our necks kinked awkwardly and upwards, just long enough to catch the tip top of the tower before the clouds swirling around it gobbled it up once more. We caught an hour long boat ride along the Seine, floating by centuries of history that had once captivated the minds and hearts of so many before us. We clung to our coats with gloved hands, and braced the crisp, chilly wind while we stood on the outer deck, outside the comforts of the warm boat to catch an even more perfect view of all that passed us by. I clicked my camera feverishly not wanting to miss a single passing tree, or wake, or speck of history.
After our boat ride, we continued on, sipping a chocolate chaud and café while waiting for the metro to whisk us towards the opera house off Place d’l Opera. After explaining to my Mom a few days prior, that the Palais Garnier opera house was in fact home to the mythological Phantom of the Opera it became a “must see” on her list of sights. As we stood in awe of the gold trim and sea green domes of Palais Garnier, we caught the lights of the Galeries Lafayette that I had visited a week earlier. Eager to show my Mom the massive shopping haven, we headed inside and up the 6 floor escalator towards the top. Upon noticing that the rooftop deck that had been closed on my last visit was now open, we continued up the final staircase hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacular city view that had been promised in all the guide books.
Spectacular does not even come close to describing a view such as this…it was literally breath-taking, so much so that we were silenced (not something that happens too often for two gals like us!). Miles and miles of lights, shadows, and rooftops filled my senses as we gazed out over Paris.
Not wanting to miss a thing, I climbed atop the edge of the massive building (much to my Mom’s disliking) hoping to catch a peek of the Sacre-Coeur on its hilltop. Yep.There it was. Paris was all there: Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe…the list goes on. I had never seen anything like this. EVER. We stood in shock as we watched the sun set and both agreed that this view was one of the most amazing things either of us had ever had the opportunity to witness. I still have chills and total goosies just thinking about it!
We ended the day with a discounted trip (on Wednesday nights the museum stays open til’ 9:45pm and offers a few Euros off the normal ticket price) to the Louvre. The Louvre is another one of those places in Paris that just seems to come alive in the night. Everything is more vibrant; more dashing; more daring; more impressive. As we climbed the massive staircases, lifted our eyes towards the intricately painted ceilings, stood in complete awe of the “older than dirt” (literally) sculptures and artwork, and crossed the marble floors, my brain once again became overwhelmed by the immensity of something as well know, and historical such as this. What a day it was…
A perfect fall day in Paris.
The view during our boat ride along the Seine. Can you see the rainbow?
Check out that relection off the boat window. J’adore.
Mom trying to listen to the boat commentary while avoiding the soaking wet seats.
The back alley’s of St-Germain des Pres.
Paris by afternoon…ahhhh.
One of the many gorgeous views from the top of Galleries Lafayette at dusk.
The moon and the opera house.
The City of Light.
Me and the Eiffel Tower!
Can you say tourist?
The Arc du Carrousel looking onto the Louvre.
Venus de Milo.
Just shadows in the dark.
Lace and pearls of stone. Magnificant.
On Thursday we woke with plans to spend the day at Versailles (Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette’s masterpiece of living – a 30 minute RER train outside of Paris), but immediately became disgruntled when we noticed the massive sized raindrops falling from the dark sky. Umbrellas in hand, we dug our heels in and made our way towards the golden gates of Chateau de Versailles.
After beginning the audio guided tour throughout the chateau, I abruptly became confused by the hideousness of what I saw. In the midst of the most beautifully elaborate drapings, chairs, armoires, clocks, chandeliers, and beddings there was uber modern art. Ick. No. Double ick. Ok, no. Triple ick! It was awful! And downright frustrating! I mean, are you kidding me?! 16.50 Euro and I have to stare at a hideous piece of Asian Pokémon art while trying to imagine a room dating back from the 17th century in its original condition?! No way! And never mind the fact that half of the paintings and room décor mentioned in the audio guide have been removed to make room for the retched exposition…what a sham! Oh, and by the way…I refused to take a single picture of the colorful and horrible juxtaposition just to prove a point! Blah!
Trying to make the best of the situation, we gazed past the eyesores, and imagined ourselves in the presence of the royal family from so many centuries ago. After the chateau, we attacked the high winds, and dodged puddles, just long enough to check out the impeccable gardens of Versailles before the rain came down on us once again.
On our train ride back to Paris towards the Eiffel Tower, I contemplated what was to come after my return home from this trip and whether I was even quite ready for my homecoming. Undoubtedly homesick, feverishly exhausted from the same rotating wardrobe, and quite empty pocketed, I swooned over the conversation of the twenty something’s behind me. They spoke of their most recent travels, once again making me restless and anxious to visit more, more, and more. As I watched my Mom gaze out the rain dripping windows, I made every attempt to keep from drifting off into travel dreamland. Did I have it in me to continue on for a few more countries? Could I manage lugging my 50 pound pack and all of my gathered souvenirs along with me for another week or so? Oh boy, oh boy…only time will tell…
The front gates of Versailles.
I immediately became obsessed with the chandeliers in this place! So many different ones!
The hall of mirrors.
A HUGE painting (spanned the entire room’s left wall) of Napoleon crowing his Josephine. We learned that Napoleon’s mother refused to be present for the crowning, so he later had her painted into the picture!
The Gardens of Versailles.
Our last meal together in Paris. Ironically it was a Mexican tapas place…we were craving guacamole and enchiladas!
Mom’s final glimpses of the Eiffel Tower. Perfect night.
Raindrops on my lens.