Friday, February 13, 2015

The Final Days Of Paris

Still in Paris and still walking. 
I would love, love, LOVE to live in this city for a few years. 
To get to really know the neighborhoods. 
To become one with it's cafés and museums. 
But, since we had a limited amount of time we had to see it all. 
And at a quick pace. 
With a few leisurely strolls mixed in. 
Actually, my quick paces all turned to leisurely strolls on this trip. 
Seeing that I was hauling around a growing human within my abdomen. 

The cathedral in the heart of Paris. 
I believe it's very near the center of the city. 
The one made famous by Victor Hugo and the hunchbacked boy he wrote about who lived within it's towers. 
The church that began being constructed in 1163. 
That's 500 years before Pilgrims decided to get on a boat and head out into the saltwater for a new life. 
The church that is protected by gargoyles who live atop it's towers. 
Who put that sign up saying *not recommended pregnant women climb the stairs?
Move out of the way people, this pregnant lady is climbing to the top of Notre-Dame!
And I did. 
All 387 steps up. 
Or was it 433?
It was a lot. 
Thank goodness there's a gift shop halfway up. 
With some seats. 

The few from up there was literally magical. 
It was the most breathtaking view I had seen in a long time. 
Was it what I had hoped it would be?
And more. 
The River Seine and Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Couer. 
All seen from the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral. 
A postcard view from my dreams. 

Once we meandered leisurely back down the steps we stopped for a crepe. 
There's a great crepe shoppe with a red awning right at the feet of the Cathedral. 
If you're ever in Paris, get one of those crepes, okay?

When Chad and I travel to a new city, we visit a zoo. 
Paris was no exception. 
We started out one morning to the oldest zoological park in Paris. 
The Ménagerie.  
Not realizing how far away it really was, it took us a very, very long time to get there. 
And we may have been going in the wrong direction for maybe an hour before it was realized. 
And I may have been the one in the lead. 
When we finally arrived it wasn't that interesting. 
All I remember are flamingos and meerkats. 
And my feet hurt. 

It was nearing the end of our trip and we had one thing left to see. 
And we were having trouble finding it. 
Why we wanted to see this particular sight is odd enough. 
We were on a quest to see the tunnel that Princess Diana was in when she was killed in a car accident in 1997. 
I had read that there was a memorial near the tunnel, but it wasn't in many guidebooks at that time. 
The Liberty Flame that commemorates French Resistance fighters. 
And it was supposed to be near our apartment. 
We had looked and looked and decided to look one last time during the evening of our last day there. 
OH, it was on the other side of the Seine!
We had been looking on the wrong side of the river the whole time. 
It was dark when we found it. 
A sculpture of an oversized golden flame sits over the tunnel on the street above. 
But I wanted to see that tunnel.
And take a picture. 
Who knows why really.
To document a piece of history, I guess. 
In my lifetime, her death was headline news. 
A tragic end to a beautiful life. 
So, I was going to get a picture. 
There's a median between the two traffic lanes leading into the tunnel. 
I thought I would just walk down that. 
Geesh, there's a lot of traffic going through that tunnel. 
My plan was to walk down the median, getting as close as I could without actually going into the dark. 
I ignored my husband's numerous requests that sounded like... "you're not going into the traffic! you're going to get killed!" 
And snapped a picture. 
And another when I got back to the side of the road. 
Both were a bit too dark. 
Of course I didn't know this at the time because this was before the popularity of digital cameras. 
I had to wait until I got home to see what had been captured on the film. 

Once we saw that tunnel, we were assured that we had seen everything. 
We had eaten dinner near the Arc de Triumphe. 
We had taken a batobus ride down the River Seine taking in all of the sights from the water. 

We had climbed the curving walkway and stairs up to Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre. 
We had eaten a prosciutto and cheese sandwich on a bench on the Ile de la Cité.
I ate the largest cotton candy I've ever seen under the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower. 

We had meandered through Rue Cler. 
The street market that was around the corner from our apartment. 
We bought fresh food there that we took back to our kitchen. 
In our Parisian kitchen Chad whipped up dinner for us a few times. 
It was a grande street market and I loved it a lot.
Except for that one afternoon at the fromagerie. 
And the cheese shop owner began yelling at Chad in French. 
Was she yelling that she wanted us to try a free sample?
We were being told to leave. 
Because he had touched the cheese. 
Apparently, that was a big no-no. 

We said goodbye to our Paris apartment in the 7th Arrondisement and headed back to the airport. 
Since we were flying standby, we had to wait for all revenue ticket holders to check in before we would know if we would get a seat. 
Two seats, remember.
As we chewed our nails and looked around we noticed two other people waiting. 
And then it was announced that there were two seats left on the jet back to Chicago. 
Two seats and four people. 
Please, please, please give those seats to the pregnant lady and her husband!
Luck was on our side that day and we got the seats. 
We said a bittersweet au revoir to Paris. 
And have been dreaming of a trip back ever since. 
With our two daughters who have a love for all things French that they have inherited from their mère.
Our daughter Gigi will fit right in. 

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