My point with going to Paris from Düsseldorf was that it’s so convienent I would have to do it now while I live here. To not have to travel super far if I live somewhere else later in life. To be honest, after this, my third time, in the City of Lights, I expected to be through with the French capital. Been there, done that, can now go to, say, Edinburgh. Maybe Paris sensed that because she sure gave her all to charm me and this morning when I woke up, I said, „I really don’t wanna leave“.
Because who would want to leave a place that has the perfect temperature (never below 20, never above 25 degrees), these amazingly stylish people (I think they have better hairdressers in France than we do?), the food (I bought a regular piece of fruit at a regular supermarket and it tasted 100 % better than at home) and the overall flair of surprisingly laid-back, savoir-vivre attitude?
As this was my third visit, I had done the Notre-Dame and Louvre league of sights earlier so we went to see Sainte Chapelle instead. Described as a gem of gothic art, it instills a profound sense of awe in the visitor stepping inside this cathedral of church art. You stand surrounded by giant colored windows that were crafted in the 13th century and can’t help but wonder how much work went into this. I’ve actually never seen something similar and I believe I have been in a few churches.
From this real church we proceeded to what A called the Cathedral of Consumerism, Galeries Lafayette. Not because we felt we needed to purchase Burberry toddler clothes, pre-printed shopping lists or retro monchichis (they still exist!?), but because it a) has a free terrace with a good view of Paris and b) boasts with a beautiful dome that you can marvel at from all floors of the shopping center. It looked more like an opera house than a mall but nevertheless was so worth the visit.
Before we went to Paris, I had asked friends who are former Parisians for recommendations. This is why in the evening, A found himself being guided to an unsuspected little side street close to Temple into a tucked away little restaurant. At Au fils des saisons, we enjoyed French dinner that we only partly understood from the menu, compelling the waiter to assure us with the words, „fromage – cheese!“ It was very tasty.
One of my reasons for wanting to go to Paris was that I wanted to see Monet’s Water Lilies in real life for once. Nine years ago I was standing in front of the Musée d’Orsay on that trip’s last day which must have been a Monday – the day the museum is closed. Finally, finally I now got to go. After two hours of looking at Renoir, Manet and Degas, we were out of the impressionist section and I said, „Do the Water Lilies have their own room that we missed?“
The thing is – they have their whole own museum and it is not the Musée d’Orsay. That one has only one smaller Water Lily painting which happened to be borrowed by Water Lilies Museum, also called the Orangerie. Suddenly it made sense to me that they sold combination tickets to both museums.
So we took a walk through the Tuileries (what’s up with all the Parisian parks being so awesome? Why aren’t our parks like that?) and all the toil of walking all day, of taking in information and art, of trying to find one’s way left me when I stood and blocked my ears with my fingers to not hear the countless tourists giving their company directions on how to take their photo in front of one of the most famous paintings in history. I was there in Giverny and almost felt the coolness of the water and the peace of the lilies swimming, saw small animals and imagined faces on the water’s reflection.
Assuming art in the wrong place seemed to be a theme of this trip because on Sunday we found ourselves in the Jardin du Luxembourg, ready to rilke as we called reciting the poem „The panther“ that famous poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote. We had just rilked the first verse, I started doubting A’s second verse and googled the correct order – to find that Rilke had not written the poem in the Jardin du Luxembourg. No, he wrote „The Panther“ in the Jardin des Plantes. What a Water Lily moment…! Luckily, the Jardin du Luxembourg was highly enjoyable too, and actually, Rilke wrote his „Carousell“ here. So we were not rilking completely without cause!
The Sunday sunset I saw from the Thalys train on the way home and I fear I said at least four times how much less of a hassle I felt it was to just get on the direct train instead of having to fly to Paris. It feels so close I, consumed with a resurgence of amitié franco-allemande, would want to go back, well, next weekend.