I love Paris in the any time of year…

5 May 2011

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when I am stricken by hay fever, the miserable conclusion that I am too short to carry off a maxi dress and also an intense desire to go back to Paris. It’s true what the poets and songwriters say, you know – there’s really nothing quite like Paris in the springtime.

Then again, let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like Paris at any time of year is there?

My first visit to Paris was in July 1989, when the French Revolution bicentenary was in full swing. We missed the actual celebrations by a couple of days but the stage that Jean Michel Jarre had performed his celebratory concert on was still outside our hotel and so, emboldened after a few illicit glasses of wine, I climbed up onto it and pranced about a bit.

I was OBSESSED with the French Revolution and had the most amazing time that week – visiting the Conciergerie, Carnavalet, Louvre, Versailles and more for the very first time. It was fantastic. The only low point was almost getting mugged by the Arc de Triomphe but it didn’t happen and the rest of the week was so great that it didn’t really seem to matter.

There’s been many visits since then – the infamous trip with my Sixth Form, when I got taken through the hidden door by Marie Antoinette’s bed in Versailles and walked down the corridor that she used to flee from the mob; the odd, drunken, surreal week I spent there while an undergraduate, researching my dissertation on Marie Antoinette…

I think my favourite week in Paris is the one that I spent with just my husband a couple of years ago, which was just heaven. He isn’t really into history so spent a lot of time sitting outside places listening to his iPod and reading a book, but he didn’t seem to mind this at all and I had a lovely time wandering around, soaking up the art and eating macarons. I remember how he left Versailles feeling furious with the aristocracy and then left the Conciergerie the next day feeling sorry for them.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get to do that again though – we took the boys with us for a week last year and Felix is now as passionately in love with Paris as I am and pretty keen to go back! I don’t know if we’ll ever be allowed to go again without him.

Oh sigh. I want to be there right now – eating a box of salad surrounded by the sweet smelling flowers on the steps of the Madeleine; strolling around the sculpture galleries of the Louvre; deliberating about what on earth I, as a vegan, can actually EAT; giving up on trying to find clothes in my size and ogling shoes and perfume instead; catching the Batobus from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower; wandering around the streets around the Rue de Grenelle; trailing through the Musée des Arts Décoratifs; running around the Louvre bookshop with a mad acquisitive glint in my eye. Oh, I miss it. I’m always saying that I must have done something VERY BAD INDEED not to have been reborn as a Parisian this time around. Maybe next time?

Want to read more about Paris? I have an article about the joys and tribulations of taking children to Paris and here’s the highlights of our last visit there:

Day one – the Louvre, Place Vendôme, Eiffel Tower, boats…

Day two – Palais Royal, Opéra, Madeleine, Chapelle Expiatoire, Conciergerie, Notre Dame, Pompidou Centre, Marais…

Day three – Marais, Carnavalet, Place des Vosges, Hôtel de Soubise, Odéon, Desmoulins’ maison, Jardins du Luxembourg, Pantheon, Louvre…

Day four – Eiffel Tower, Musée Rodin, Louvre!

Day five – Buttes Chaumont, St Denis, Champs Elysées, Ladurée, Eiffel Tower…

Day six – Tuileries, Louvre, Marais…

Day seven – Musée Arts Décoratifs, Opéra…

It was actually the first time I had been to Paris and not visited Versailles! NEXT TIME I am going to compensate by visiting both Versailles AND Fontainebleau. I need to visit them anyway for *cough* research purposes. Which reminds me, does anyone know if there’s any way of getting INSIDE the Palais Royal? I want to have a look at the chapel, if it still exists!

Anyway, that’s enough ineffectual sighing. I’m setting up a savings account so that proceeds from my books can go towards a bit of a knees up in Paris later this year so *fingers crossed* I’ll be back soon…

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