“So you didn’t come to Trocadéro? I told you, you have to be at Trocadéro!”, exclaimed an incredulous friend of mine, plainly disappointed at my inability to follow his instructions.
“I came by bus, it was the other side so”, I apologized to this enthused French egg. But soon enough I had to submit to his proposal. This view was just perfect: a broad and clear frontal view of the Eiffel Tower. White and marble-paved with geometric floor-works, this spot guarantees a big wow, as you are struck by the golden-copper glimmer of this towering piece of architecture. With 72 names of male French scientists, engineers, and industrialists engraved on the four sides, there is strikingly no mention of the female contemporaries in similar professions. That apart, this place has a lot to offer to the tourists, even when sightseeing by foot. One could walk up straight to the tower, buy tickets to the top and enjoy a view of the city, and then stroll into the garden of Trocadéro, just around the corner, as I did. A good place to sit and relax, unless one walks into the east corner and it smells no good. The statuettes spread all over the garden are something to admire though.
So I began my day at Paris with Arc de Triomphe, right outside the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile metro. For the first time in my brief travels in Europe, I was hugely impressed by what I saw in front of me. Standing tall at 50m on its two mighty limbs, this site was constructed in memoriam of martyrs from the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Reminded me of India Gate!
I spent an effortless 35 minutes on the premises, admiring the carvings on the wall, flawless from the hair strands to the toenail, with the arm and calf muscles distinctly proving their point. But then the trouble began: with 12 freakishly wide avenues radiating from around this spot, I struggled to cross over to the other side of the road. I had to. Because I had spotted the Paris Eye. So I crossed anyway. Guilty and not proud.
At 13, when in High School, I had read “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. The twist in the tale takes place when Mathilde runs into Jeanne at Champs-Élysées. This name had stuck in my head ever since. 15 years later I walked across this street, straight out of the book. Just for the fun of it, I googled Rue des Martyrs, because my High School teacher had taken pains to explain why Maupassant would choose that street to portray Mathilde’s mortification.
Shiny shopping outlets pronouncing the Paris chic and trend would invite you inside if you have a big pocket. But in contrast to many big cities, where green is forgotten in the jungle of concrete and jingle of coins, Paris can boast of a great number of big gardens with trees lining the avenues.
The Seine paces its way through the city in its mirror clear waters. When walking through the streets tired me out, I always found my calm respite at its banks. A ferry full of gleeful tourists, cheering and waving at the onlookers is a pretty common sight. Imagine a sunset on the bridge with a hand to hold yours. Love blossoms, isn’t it? 🙂 Sure enough, a bunch of heart locks testifies to that.
There is indeed a lot to see around Champs- Élysées, and in a couple of hours, I knew how Joe Dassin was so very right! My next big stop had to be Eiffel, who had been stalking me around all this time, not to mention the numerous “Tour Eiffel” ads all over the place. The pride of Paris. The Eiffel stands all tall and glimmers in the midst of green. If you do not have a ticket to the top, but patience is your virtue, you might consider standing in a long queue. But since I had none, I thought it better to move on to the Louvre Museum. On my way to the Louvre, I chanced upon the Academie Nationale De Musique. They speak of little joys in life, and this one made my day. The performer and his little girl were singing to the cheering crowd. I could simply sit there all day listening to the duo, and with a score of Spanish tourists there, Despacito was bound to show up, and it did! A good thirty minutes later, a little reluctantly I got up, for the sake of my Disney dreams. No, not Disneyland (not this time sadly), but The Grand Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Once at the cathedral square, I found flocks of pigeons happily pecking away on the ground and one kind young woman throwing around handfuls of corn for them. Well as kind as playful. This unsuspecting balding man was scared out of his wits when she planted some corns stealthily on his head, and poor him got clawed on his scalp for a full minute. Lol. It was outright comic, and I was not even sorry!
A little walk down the street past the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation brought me to the cozy square next to the Palais de Justice. It gives a small town feel in the hustle of the city. Just right. Small souvenir shops and little eateries are lined up on each side to give you some happy hours. The souvenirs were a bit too much for the pocket, so I bombed my money on food! No side effect of guilt trips once you are full. Just run a mile. Or not. Whatevs.
My feet were hurting from all the walk, but I dared not to miss the Luxembourg Gardens, guaranteed both by my friend and Google to be a place of charm. It is ever so beautiful, with wide acres of neatly mowed grass and well-tended trees. The grand palace, the green promenade, the fountain, the little boats on the water, and the chatter of children bring forth the heart and soul of this place. Creates the perfect weekend evening that you are most likely to cherish. Only that I wish, here I had company. Or an ice-cream bowl.
So anyway, I had decided to wrap up my day with this when my two friends visiting the Formula E planned on visiting the Eiffel again. Seems like one simply cannot get enough of it! So off we went to Trocadéro again. But even then we missed the oh-so-pretty lit-up look of the tower because in May may the Sun not set before 8 at night.
Had I made my way to the tower top, probably I would have known what the big deal about kiss-at-the-Eiffel-top is all about. Guess I will have to hold it up until the next time when I have company to put a heart lock with, on that fairytale bridge over the Seine.