When I remember Paris I’m always surprised at how fondly I remember the trip, given the circumstances. The whole city is renowned for romance, I don’t think there’s a single part that hasn’t been used in some film over the years. Some of my favourite too like the Hepburn Classic Sabrina or Moulin Rouge. I wanted to see it all and we did.
Not only the romance of the city is true to form but so is the art. It’s literally everywhere, from galleries to street artists, fashion and in the very attitudes of the people that live there. If I could speak French with any conviction I might even consider spending some real time there.
The second day of our stay was a warm one, it looked like we were going to be lucky with the weather for the five days we would be there. Oh, and it was my 28th birthday. I woke up to be greeted by Megan handing me my presents and cards. In our small apartment that was our home for these few days I found a space to put up my few birthday cards. Megan had bought me a satchel-like handbag that was bright orange (very me) and a light blue Animal hoody. I can never resist an animal hoody.
We were both eager to go exploring on our second day, so no sooner had I unwrapped my presents we were off out the door. We’d take a long walk along the Seine from the Louvre to the Eifel tower. We had planned to go up the tower, but as soon as we arrived we noticed the signs declaring that it was closed due to strike action. Un deterred we decided to make the most of the sunshine and hang out in the nearby park and snap photos like the tourists we were.
We planned to go back to the gardens later that evening to see the Eifel tower illuminated and sparkling, we’d take a picnic with us. The rest of the day we ambled around taking photos and began to notice the love-locks fastened to the many bridges. It was something Megan had planned for us to do long before we arrived. I thought the idea was quite sweet, even given our current precarious relationship dynamics.
Megan had also promised that I had one more present for my birthday to come. The bracelet she had bought me at Christmas would need a little something to remember our time in Paris. Her eagle eye spotted a tiny Eifel Tower silver charm in a shop window that I would have certainly missed. I loved it instantly and added it to the many others we had added over time including the angel wings and the ‘more than chocolate’ heart pendant. I never seemed to leave the house without it.
We spent the evening of my birthday watching the sparkling lights of the tower set off on the hour every hour. Saw the street merchants selling bottles of champagne and wine that they stashed away in nearby bushes. We talked nonsense, nothing of any importance at all and we snapped more photos. It was still easy to spend time with Megan, especially when I forgot about our problems, wasn’t that what holidays were for?
On our walk home we seemed to have the riverbank to ourselves most of the way walking along in the moonlight. It should have been the most romantic evening we had ever spent together. This was a lifelong dream of Megan’s finally coming true, it had recently been our anniversary and it was my birthday… So why did it feel so forced and unnatural when we walked the last few hundred meters holding hands?
The truth was nothing came easily anymore. I wanted to enjoy the rest of our holiday so I would try not to dwell on that and pushed it to the back of my mind. Instead we focused on our plans for the rest of the week.
We didn’t take the metro once, where ever we went we walked. Whether that was all the way up to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur or through the city to the Champs élysées, the weather was amazing and it was nice to see the city in all it’s glory. Somehow we still managed to miss the artists square at the Sacre Coeur, something I know I’ll go back for one day. We took the Batobus many times however when we were done with all that walking.
We walked around Notredam, looked in almost every little boutique, marvelled at the art and gushed over the gorgeous puppies they kept in the pet shops. We visited the Louvre and saw the iconic Mona Lisa over the heads of a crowd of tourists. I personally loved the sculptures the most. My favourite is the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which I think proves that some things are more beautiful in ruin than as they had been designed. We would find a different place to eat every night which is never easy when you’re as fussy as I can be. At the end of each night we would be exhausted.
Before the week was up, we found a man on one of the bridges selling padlocks and bought ourselves a padlock to scribble our names on. I often wonder if we would have bothered to do this if Megan hadn’t had the idea so many months before. But never the less, we both fixed our ‘love-lock’ to the bridge and threw the keys into the river.
Our trip was over before it seemed to have begun and there was still so much of Paris we could have seen and experienced. I guess that is a fitting metaphors for how I was feeling about our relationship too by the end of the week.