Who says you can’t see Paris in a day? I tell you what, today Mum and I gave it a red hot go and all without getting off our derrieres for too long! Starting where we left off yesterday, we made our way back to Notre Dame and you guessed it, climbed aboard a bus top tour.
Of course, Paris is so big that there’s actually four bus loops comprising the entire tour and we managed to get though three (luckily we have a two day ticket so you know what we’re up to for at least part of tomorrow). We saw most of the big crowd pleasers – The Eiffel Tower, The Arch de Triomphe, The Champs Elysee, The Louvre, The Musee D’Orsay, Invalides, Bastille, Madeline, Opera, Pont Neuf (made famous by the 1980’s Nescafe commercial) and so on and so forth. I won’t bore you with the finer details, mostly because there are too many to remember but I’ll absolutely confess to the guilty pleasure of seeing Paris from this perspective and is such a compressed timeframe.
I’m under no delusions that this type of tour gives an in depth insight into Paris but you can’t beat it for a snapshot of the sheer size, density, historical importance, cultural significance and absolute grandeur and magnificence of a city so deserving of the esteem its held in. I love this city like I love New York and have had the good fortune to visit it just as many times and yet, it is never the same city twice.
This time around with Mum, I’m seeing it anew through her eyes – remembering what it was like that first time to see all these places and monuments, names and icons that loom so large in our imaginations – The Eiffel Tower, The French Revolution, crepes, Chanel, Napoleon, baguettes, berets, Edith Piaf, cheese, wine, Notre Dame, Moulin Rouge, Amelie, Jean Luc Goddard, Picasso, Monet, Rodin, The Mona Lisa and so on and so on. I love this city!
We took a few moments between bus loops to stop in at another of my favourite institutions – Shakespeare & Co bookshop on the left bank. At the outset of this journey, I had intended to come to Paris by myself and actually stay at the bookshop. I first became aware of it years ago watching Michael Palin’s Hemmingway Adventures. Hemmingway stayed at the bookshop (as did Michael Palin) which to this day still provides free accommodation to writers in return for free labour and a daily practice of writing. Admittedly, my claims to being a writer are more than a little tenuous but I certainly could’ve come up with a creative story to get my foot in the door! I should stress that its no hotel – its a tightly packed antiquarian bookshop that is bursting at the seams with just enough room to pull out camp beds in between the shelves or so I’ve heard! Unfortunately that hasn’t come to pass this time around the mulberry bush but rest assured, I’ll be back!
After our day on the top decks, we went for a wander around chi-chi St Germaine where we did a spot of retail therapy before winding up at the infamous Les Duex Magots to see if the rumours about their hot chocolate were true, they were, it was the best (merci becoup Erin)!
Today was phenomenal – to see my Mum fall in love with this city that she never expected to see was an extraordinary privilege and memory that I’ll treasure for rest of my days. Thank you Mum.
A big, big retraction – the city of Paris is beautiful! From the bus top I saw such a different view of Paris from the one I got coming into the city. This city is magnificent and seeing these wonderful things, the Champs Elysee, the Arch de Triomphe, not to mention the Eiffel Tower and the Pont Neuf bridge is awe inspiring. To have heard of these things my whole life and to be here seeing them in person is incredible.
What made me smile today: Nomi finding the shortcut home, cutting out about 10kms and the best hot chocolate i’ve ever had at Les Deux Magots (which is one of the places even I knew about as a restuaratnt that Hemmingway used to go to). Love to all.