Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paris in November

This is long overdue but...

I think it is safe to say that all three of us fell in love with Paris on day one. What a fabulous city. I think we would have found it fabulous any time we visited, but, visiting now, after living in Qatar for a while, made it especially nice.

First thing we noticed was the weather. We arrived on a rainy, cloudy day, which couldn't have been better for us. Strange right? But after being rain & cloud-deprived for so long, that cranky looking sky with its random sprinkling of mist was a down right treat. Ella kept looking around, like 'what is this wet stuff that is falling on us?'... hard to believe she hasn't really experienced rain yet!


One of the most attractive things about the city (like many old cities) was its buildings. The history is amazing and looking at the details in each one we passed was just awesome. No two the same.

My quick 'favorite things about Paris list' to sum it all up (in no particular order, as they were all great):


Ella and one of many baguettes...

1. The bread - the bread deserves to be in a seperate category and not just lumped in with 'food'. It also deserves to be mentioned first, as many of you know, I am a bread fan (understatement, really). Parisians love their bread, and it is everywhere. We had bread with every meal (Ella included) and felt compelled to buy fresh baguette from street bakeries as we walked around, just to fit in, as everyone else was walking and munching on their fresh baguettes.

2. The food & wine - both more than great, and we slowly ate and drank our way across the city at every meal. Good thing we were walking everywhere to offset the calories a bit! (If you read this May, I apologize... it couldn't be helped!)

3. The dogs - Being an animal lover in Qatar has been difficult at times, as no longer can we bring our dogs with us when we go many places. When you do see dogs in the city, they are often stray and looking very hungry (tug at heart strings here). So, seeing big Retrievers tucked in under their owners chairs at cafes and little pomeranians obediently walking through stores next to their families was a welcome sight. Bonus: Ella has learned to say "woof" when she sees a puppy, so there were lots of excited woofs as we explored.

4. The chocolate - Stores and stores devoted solely to chocolate and delicious things covered in chocolate. And I thought the Qatari's had a sweet tooth!

5. The history - Everywhere we went there were magnificent old buildings, statues and monuments. So much to take in, so little time.

7. The small cars - Five years in Texas got me somewhat accustomed to seeing 'big rigs' everywhere. Then, our ten months here, where almost every vehicle is a large desert-ready SUV, I had begun to forget about the smaller vehicles. Paris was crammed with Smart cars, hatch-backs, and scooters. Loved, loved, loved this.
6. The Frenchness - The fashionable slightly-disheveled-but-oh-so-put-together appearance of the  people carrying their baguettes, morning papers, and puffing away on a cigarette was very cool. We both agreed that the smoking just didn't seems as offensive here, oddly enough. I mean, we were aware of it, and tried to steer Ella away from all smokers at all times, but so many people doing it made it seem much more acceptable and commonplace. Weird, I know, coming from a smoke-hater.

8. The markets/shopping - This was the kind of shopping I have missed. Little shops all lined together, each selling a curious assortment of things that bring a warmth to my heart. Colin indulged me repreatedly while I wandered through as many boutiques as I could, trying my rusty french out on shop keepers, and buying the odd knick knack here and there.

 
9. The ART - Paris certainly got my creative juices flowing. Studios and galleries everywhere, it seemed. Our day in Montemarte was amazingly inspirational. Artists at every turn, painting their hearts out! Never mind the museums filled with Monet, Manet, Renoir, van Gogh and countless other historical artists. You could wander through the museums for days on end and still not see everything.


10. The winding streets - Old cobblestone streets snaking around the city in every direction... filled with businesses, churches, people bundled up for winter weather, scents of baking bread.... ahhh.
 

So there you have it, our Paris adventure in a nut shell.  It was a glorious eight days and we do plan on returning again some day, fingers crossed.

Vive la France!