Sunday, 19 April 2009

Heaven is Spring Time in Paris

A kiss in front of Rodin's 'The Kiss' in les jardins Tuileries

Can there be any more magical city in the world than Paris? If there is I haven't seen it yet! C2, J, my mum, my Auntie Harriet and I traveled north to the city of lights to rendez-vous with friends from Montreal for the Easter week school break. We had rented an apartment in the 1er arrondissement of Paris, near the Louvre, in order to be near our friends who had rented a flat within the glorious Palais Royale.

Under the Pyramid in the Louvre

I had at one point questioned whether a week would be too long in Paris with a 5-year old but honestly it was barely long enough and I still didn't do all I would have liked. We walked, without exaggeration about 7 hours a day including one full day at Parc Asterix, an amusing theme park based on the French comic strip Astérix le Gaulois, about 30km outside of Paris, as well as one exhausting day at Disney Paris.

Strolling the David gallery in the Louvre

But Paris is not about theme parks, they were a simple diversion for the younger set. I'm not even sure at this point that they were necessary as my favorite memory is J's utter fascination with the gallery of neo-classical historical paintings by David in the Louvre. We must have spent an hour looking at them closely. It was the first time I introduced him to a museum offering more mature subjects than natural history and he rose to the occasion. His tastes, however, did not extend to Monet's Waterlillies which are beautifully displayed in the Orangerie gallery in les jardins Tuileries. Impressionist art didn't make much of an impression on him.

J's other favorite Paris landmark was the ubiquitous Eiffel Tower. He spent hours searching out just the right souvenir models and begging every adult in our group to part with a few coins in support of his purchase of another and another. Final tally of miniature Eiffel Towers was around 10. They are now carefully on display in his bedroom in Geneva.

A couple of the odder things that we fit in were visits to the sewers of Paris, a somewhat funky-smelling but still interesting wade (pardon the pun) under the Quai d'Orsay on the Left Bank. The other was a visit to the Catacombs of Paris, a vast underground ossuary where the bones of overwhelmed city and church cemetaries were moved and stacked into eery piles of femurs, tibias and skulls.

While both were mildly interesting (wildly for the boys), my personal Paris remains solidly above ground in the gardens of the Tuileries, in the architecture of 17th century apartment blocks and palaces converted into museums or other public spaces, in the bridges spanning the Seine - each with it's own history and charm, and in the winding streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement.


Mighty Mom said...

Stunning, romantic and sweet. What a great holiday!
Infinitely jealous in a very different P-town,
The Mighty's

Sher said...

Your trip looks really fun, a lot more fun that Katie and I eating our bodyweight in chips and M&Ms on Friday.

DL NELSON said...

Great photos

Jen said...

Nate has said that he too would like to go to Paris......he also asked what the things were in the catacombs.....

Looks like it was a wonderful trip for all of you; colour me infinitely jealous as well!

Jawahara said...

I *love* this post, and the pictures are beautiful. Now I just have to go to Paris again.