Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Paris - Day one... with 10 things that have made it special

If three is the magic number, then four surely has something special too about it, because I guess I can say that my 4th time in Paris has been the one I've enjoyed the most.
And the first day has been the most enthusiastic one.
I had almost had forgotten how beautiful this city is - kinda put it aside in some boxes in my memory. Ok, it hasn't stolen my heart like London has, but still it makes it beat - quite fast in some enchanting corners.
It's both royal and cosy, and I don't know how it does such a trick. Well, I should, perhaps - as anyway it is something that all the cats are very good at doing, at being both majestic and cute. So - do I have to say that? If a cat was a city, then it would probably be Paris.
I guess that's why I've always considered it a bit foregone, kinda taken for granted? Or, well, I guess it's also because it somehow looks similar to Turin. That's a similarity it strikes me more and more every time - and earlier today I was flipping through my pictures on my phone being a bit absent-minded and for a second I hadn't realized I had finished Paris photos and I was actually looking at Turin's ones.
But ok, that's the similarity between two cousins, of which Paris is the filthy rich, unfairly stunning one - while Turin is a pretty girl, but she has to work in a factory for a living, and she has calluses on her hands. Yet, when I go to Paris I'm just not able to get surprised, as I notice the familiar features, something vaguely recognizable, if not totally similar.
Still, I've always made efforts in order to notice beauty in the everyday, and since I've become a blogger I've refined this skill to the top - so this time I've got totally striked by how much familiarity can be stunning as well.
Paris is made of gold and stone, of gothic and liberty, and all its facets - the romantic one, the posh one, the elegant, the cosy, the dark... just melt into an unique mixture.

These are the 10 ingredients of the mixture that I've been tasting today, and that have made this day pretty much special:

[1] When the train is coming baby, I'm gonna jump on that train!
Ok, we will start from the early beginning, shall we? I have travelled to Paris with every possible mean: plane, bus, car - and this time I've chosen train, which has proved to be the best one, as for my taste.
I have thing about travelling by train: I know many people find it boring, but I love it, exp. when I travel alone, because it always gets me particularly inspired for writing - I guess it has something to do with contemplating the landscape through the window and letting my thoughts flow away with it. Plus, train is the only mean of transport that doesn't get me any kind of physical annoyances: car makes me motion sick, bus makes me dizzy and plane makes my ears get plugged; while train just relaxes me.
Turin has a direct connection with Paris and the TGV just takes 6 hours: I've managed to sneak early out of the office on Friday afternoon, jumped on my train at Porta Susa station at 5.30 PM and reached Gare de Lyon before midnight. If you book your ticket on line with a large advance you can find very good offers: I've booked at the beginning of February and I found a return journey for 90 € - which is a good deal if you ask me, but I know that someone has even managed to find tickets at 30 €!
The train was complete, but I've had a pleasant journey - writing all the time of course, which made the 6 hours fly quite quickly.

[2] Let it Spring!
Spring always brings along a big deal of softness in everyone's heart - so it's the ideal season to enhance Paris's romantic side, which after all is one of the best known features of the city.
Some trees were still bare, so some of my photos look like they had been taken a couple of months before some others, where instead flowers are in bloom, grass is green and pastel colors rule everywhere.

Paris, Tuileries

Oh, and weather was really moody on my first day: there were quick showers coming and going, lasting just like 5 minutes, then leaving place to the sun, then rain again...


I wonder if Paris was maybe jealous of London? It felt really like a British weather. I told her "Come on Paris, that's just not you!!" - and actually the day after there was a big improvement *LOL*.
Anyway I must admit that gloomy, cloudy sky has provided some incredibly charming pics, of which I had been really happy about, also because there weren't many persons around.
I had to choose whether taking out my umbrella or keeping on taking photos - but which do you think my choice has been?

[3] Let's lock our love in Paris
Lovelocks have always made me wonder a bit. Maybe I'm not the most romantic person on earth, but I don't really get that much why a couple should want to tie a symbol of their love on a bridge - and moreover why a lock (which to me gives the idea of being stuck and trapped inside) should be a symbol of love. But ok, that's a tradition.

Love locks

The point is - where does this tradition come from??
Apparently nobody knows, not even Wikipedia.
Here in Italy the thing has started spreading out (so much that there are even a couple of locks on the squalid bridge that overhangs the muddy river near my office - and come on, believe me that is just *not* a romantic place) after that a teenage chick-lit novel ("Three meters above the sky" by Federico Moccia) told about it. The book is rather cheesy, but it had got extremely popular back in the early 2000's - but I'm not sure that it actually all derived from it. Not in the rest of the world, at least.

Paris, love locks

Anyway, when seen from a distance they were looking like flowers - but no, they were zillions of locks hanging on the Archeveche and Des Arts bridges.
I wonder what they do with the keys of these locks. And if some of these couples then split up - do they go and release the lock?
Ok, come on, I'm just too cynical. But really, there is no more room already. I guess that couples yet to come will have to invent a new way to leave trace of their (hopefully) everlasting commitment.

[4] Quasimodo, where art thou?
One day I should make a classification of my top 10 photographic soft spots.
Right now I'm still undecided about which rank should be occupied by what; but surely gothic cathedrals would be on a top position.
And then how could have I avoided their queen??

Paris, Notre-Dame

Actually Notre-Dame is not my favourite one: York Minster is more stunning, imho; but Notre-Dame is surely a masterpiece worth of its fame.

Paris, Notre-Dame

I've woken up quite early in order to be able to admire (and photograph) it tete-à-tete, with no people around. Well, at least not with a crowd - as it's normal around it. 

Paris, Notre-Dame

Le Dame has been my model, and I've snapped pictures of her in all the possible poses.
Aw, this has been one of the reasons why I came here!

[5] Kissing the rain at the Louvre
Three times in Paris and never visited the Louvre. Shame on me, I know. 

Paris, Louvre

I actually once tried to do it, so happy because appartently there was no queue at all - of course, it was its closing day! No, no Freudian lapsuses intended, I'm simply clumsy like that: I did the same with the Prado in Madrid.
And now it's gonna be four times in Paris and no Louvre.

Paris, Louvre

I swear one day I'm going to visit it.
I must admit I have an ambivalent feeling about museums: I do like art, but I'm just too eager to hang around and see places, so I recurr to museums only on a second moment.

Paris, Louvre

Still this morning it's been one of my first stops, because I wanted to see how its square was looking like in the rain - and I've been rewarded with a really stunning view: there was almost nobody around, just the glass Pyramid with the pavement shining with the water drops and the gloomy sky beneath.

Paris, Louvre

My camera lens got wet, which made me curse a bit, but it was totally worth it!

[6] It was my not-birthday, after all
My Parisienne friend Hélène took me to lunch in a lovely place called "Le loir dans la Théière" [3, rue de Rosiers], in the heart of the Marais quarter. "Loir" means dormeuse, and it's a reference to Alice in Wonderland.

It's a nice tea room, but cosy and crazy, so stuffed with any kind of funny, weird, creative and kinky posters, cuttings, drawings and whatever.
Hélène told me she once saw Sarah Jessica Parker here, who looked a bit older than she does in the movies, but still really stunning, the American way.

The food was very appealing as well.
I've had a very good salty pie with pumpkin and blue cheese, and then spoiled myself by tasting their famous, luscious lemon meringue pie - just too great looking to be true.

Paris, Le loir dans la théière, Lemon meringue pie

In this place it is not allowed to carry your laptop - not only to add a perk to the style of the place, but because they want to encourage people to actually talk to each other, which feels so cosy in such a place, in front of an amzing slice of cake like theirs.
And of course it's been what Hélène and me have done, talking about similarities between Italians and Frenchs (exp. for the fact of not wanting to learn English), our old fashioned writing hobbies, trips and random funny stuff.

[7] I used to have two, now I have three
Montmartre and the Latin Quarter used to be my favourite areas in Paris.
Until Hélène brought me to discover the Marais district.
Marais used to be an aristocratic district, then held by Jewish community and nowadays having a strong gay and Chinese presence. I guess it's the melt of such different souls and cultural influences that makes it so charming.
It hosts many outstanding buildings and an equal number of hidden gems in their courtyards, including some cosy and pretty small gardens.

[8] I'm a black cat in a cemetery
I guess the charming old graves of the Pére Lachaise cemetery have been the subject on which I've done the largest amount of pictures during these days in Paris.

Paris, Pére Lachaise

I might be a bit spooky (I'm a black cat, after all), but cemeteries are another one of my soft spots because they often include very beautiful pieces of art - and because their gloomy atmosphere always adds a charachter to such beauty.

Paris, Pére Lachaise

Paris, Pére Lachaise

The most famous grave in this cemetery is probably Oscar Wilde's one, all upholstered with lipstick marks.

Paris, Pére Lachaise, Oscar Wilde grave

Marcel Proust and George Harrison have very sober graves, that I've noticed only because there was a small crowd surrounding them.

Paris, Pére Lachaise

Paris, Pére Lachaise

Paris, Pére Lachaise

There are quite some graves with an interesting story to tell in here; and there are some almost anonymous ones which are anyway so charming to see...

[9] Playing tennis table in the middle of a Boulevard
Yeah, this happens in Bd Richard Lenoir
That's one of the main streets that conjoin in Place de la Bastille and its central lane is actually occupied by a long and narrow garden.
So you can spot people playing tennis table, children with their toys, cherry blossoms and fountains in the middle of a regular Parisian traffic road.
Like an oasis in the metropolitan jungle.

[10] Even sushi has a French way
I've been recommend Planet Sushi (2-4, bd Lenoir) by my friend Raquel.
And indeed it was a very pink and very yummy place.
So I'm passing to you her advice - ignore how weird it might feel, and try Nutella makis.
Both Raquel and me agree they're mouthwatering.

Paris, Planet Sushi, Nutella maki

And no, don't worry, they are not wrapped in nori seaweeds.
They are wrapped in crêpes, of course ;)             

Do you want to read more of my days in Paris? 
-> Some complaints about the second day, but together with the amazing Orsay Museum!  -> You just can not grumble if you are on holiday in Paris! The second day was also full of so many beautiful things , like Montmartre and the Latin Quarter  
->  ... and Montmartre deserves a post all to itself: here are my impressions following the footsteps of the maudit poets and Amélie Poulain
->  After all this walking Day 3 has been dedicated to relax - in beautiful parks in bloom and at the amazing Cat Café 


  1. I love Paris! And Paris in the rain is so beautiful! Your pictures definitely show that. I missed the lock wall when I was there but my friend said it was one of her favorite places in Paris!

    1. Yeah, rain made it even more charming!
      And then it was coming and going, so not that disturbing, after all.
      Those locks are nowadays in many cities... but surely in Paris they have more appeal, as after all Paris is so romantic :)

  2. I, too, love to travel via train. There is a certain romanticism to it. Really enjoyed seeing Oscar Wilde's lipstick upholstered grave.

    1. True!
      Maybe that's why it always gets me so inspired to write: because it has a romantic appeal.
      Yeah, I guess Oscar Wilde's grave is probably the most famous attraction of the cemetery ;)

  3. Pere Lachaise is great. Looks like's Wilde's is now covered/protected. :)

    1. It is!
      So charming.
      Yup, it's a few years that it's been protected by a plexiglass wall because the "affection" of his fans was probably somehow menacing for it ;)
      But they've still managed to put their lips' signs everywhere :D

  4. I love your photos! I haven't been to Paris but of course have seen a thousand photos of the city and yours offer a fresh perspective and are beautifully photographed. I can't wait to visit one day!

    1. Aw, thanks Sammi, I'm glad you've enjoyed them!
      Hope you'll soon have a chance to visit Paris, it's surely worthy :)

  5. It's been so long since I've been to Paris. Your post is making me want to go back. : )

    1. That's cool Pablo :)
      Hope you'll have a chance to go back, it's always worth it: this has been my 4th time but it was as great as the first one!

  6. These photos are great! I've been to Paris once and not for long - would love to go back.

    1. Thanks Ashley, I'm glad you like them :)
      Going to Paris is always a good idea I think, so hope you'll soon have a chance!

  7. Well, just how London stole your heart, Paris has stolen mine. I believe it is the greatest city in the world, but then again that is just my oppinion. I think your photos have captured it very wel. You are very talented. The Luvre is great but I believe that the Musée d'Orsay is the better one with all of its impressionest art. It is a must see! Also about the locks I believe that they throw the key into the river and let it get crarried away. One last thing, I agree with you, trains are the best way to travel.

    1. Sure :)
      As I've said, I'm more into London; but I totally can understand why there is so many people loving Paris. It is gorgeous indeed.
      I'm glad you have enjoyed my photos - you can see more of them in the other Paris posts, if you want.
      Yeah, I've been to the Orsay during my Day 2 - and loved it sooo much. It had been ages I wanted to visit it, and it's been great.
      Yeah, throwing away the key in the river I guess it's the most appropriate thing for the symbolism that the lock has.
      Trains rock - I always try to choose train when I can (=the distance is not too long)

  8. No picture of Jim Morrison's grave? ;)
    I love, totally love, all the pictures you took. makes me so want to go back.
    been 22 year, quite too long! :(

    1. I think it's in Montparnasse cemetery... or not??
      Anyway, I've missed it :(
      So... it might be one of the stops for when you'll go back - with me :)
      ...and by train :D

  9. I was in paris more than 10 years ago and I didnt like it that much but now, seeing your photos, I think its maybe time to go back

    1. :)
      yeah, maybe you should give it a second chance, it might be worth it ;)
      Sometimes after some years things inside ourselves change... or maybe you'd just get different circumstances that could make you enjoy it a bit more.