She smiled pleasantly. “That’s 40 euros, please” Quickly and efficiently change was made and tickets were delivered. Another smile. “Thank you, Merci.”
And with that brief exchange we began the last leg of our 12-hour journey. My non-existent French had made something of itself and I was surprised at the ease of it all. But we were struggling under the slumping fatigue of a sleepless night and heavy luggage. Paris had not waited for us, she was well into her day, and, in an additional act of betrayal, she wouldn’t easily give up our apartment. We searched, our minds on a job, our heads not yet in Paris.
Then, suddenly, we were standing on the Pont Neuf, the Eiffel Tower to our right, Notre Dame allowing herself to be observed to our left, and the Seine flowing under our feet.
Paris comes at you all at once.
Heavy, ornately carved ancient stone soars into the sky.
Paris delivers on all of its promises
Soon after purchasing those train tickets into the city we were immersed in Parisian life. We walked everywhere, we looked at everything, we spoke to everyone. Every minute of our day was filled, quite often with nothing at all. We left behind almost all of our other life, after all, it was only for ten days and France has so much to offer that you don’t want old habits to get in the way of new experiences. In some ways, we had no choice: we spoke little French and had to practice as we went, our computers and iphones failed to work for a myriad of reasons, and even the phone in our apartment didn’t work. But I think it was mostly Paris itself, she brings your senses to the very edge of overwhelmed and while you are there, you are so consciously in Paris, you cannot be anywhere else. Paris takes up all of your attention.