Visiting Paris again for a long weekend, I’m reminded how much I appreciate certain types of cityscape. Whatever they are, almost all can be found here in the City of Light. That’s why I love it as much as I do. “Paris a mon coeur/Des mon enfance…”
We are staying in an elegant apartment on the southern edge of the Marais, in the 4th arrondisement. Despite being a block away from the Rue de Rivoli,it’s blissfully quiet. This morning, after a leisurely breakfast of fruit and pastries and coffee, we walked down to the river and onto the Ile St Louis. After calling in at the island parish’s exuberant baroque church, we walked westwards the legnth of the island, then crossing over onto the other island, turned into the little park named after John XXIII. From there we headed for the nearest boite where I found and bought a copy of Maurice Druon’s Le roi de fer – quite a thrill to look up and see the Tour de Nesle, where most of the action in that novel takes place. Then up Rue Louis Philippe to outdoor lunch in the Rue des Rosiers, and so home after a spot of shopping. Tonight we are in Montparnasse.
For me it’s all those quiet streets with little shops, and strolling pedestrians, human-scale architecture and good places to go for food and drink. There are no cars because there is no need for any. It’s evident that real people live in all these pretty houses set between the tiny hotels. Children let out of school, waiters resting outside the cafes, little old ladies. Sunlight on the old facades and the window boxes high above us. There is life here, and we should respect and enjoy it. I do.
There are streets like this all over Paris, but also in Rouen, Sarlat, Venice, Carthagena, York, Wells, Aachen, Mumbai, Djakarta and even Sana’a. I love them all. But Paris most of all. I am so glad to be here.