There is this feeling I always get before one of my favorite musicians goes on stage. I guess I’d say I become very nervous… I’ve loved them from afar for so long that when the time finally (finally) comes to see and hear their talent live, I just so, so want them to do well. I sit on my hands, fingers crossed, refusing to lower my expectations, quietly wishing and hoping. They always come through; I walk away with a big smile, gratitude and a sore throat. Probably overdramatic, but oh well.
Paris was similar.
Determined to see as much as we could from Thursday to Sunday, we booked an early morning train ride arrival and a late evening return by bus. The route, through Dutch, Belgian, and French fields (as well as inner city Brussels, too), was a treat in itself. Over the next few days, we found a way to master the Metro, walk under the tree canopies of Versailles, order dessert, stand beside the Tower, and cap Friday and Saturday evenings with the Pitchfork Music Festival.
Amidst the buzz of it all though, the calm pulse of the city is palpable. I think Paris is a place of self-assuredness. A quiet sort of confidence that forces you to stop for a second, hear your own voice in your own head a bit more clearly, with a bit more volume. I didn’t find a Parisian ego or conceited snootiness… just people who were sure, style that was sure, food that was sure. It was refreshing and beautiful, and hopefully I’ve made sense of it to you.
To discover a new place with new friends, each from a different place, is a funny thing. Each person’s perspective is illuminating for the others’. There were commonalities among the 4 of us though, like the spontaneous and giddy applause we all broke into the moment the Eiffel Tower was visible in the distance.
I stole as many moments as I could, sealing ’em as long lasting memories. You find yourself, maybe even your subconscious, seeing people and past occasions in monuments or shop windows or items on a menu when you’re away from home in a new place. Like my Catechism-teaching grandfather in the Notre Dame.
The Autumn colors were gorgeous and bright (I’m still partial to the real Midwest thing). The Catacombs were spooky and perfect Halloween timing. The gardens of Versailles were some of the most grand landscapes I have ever seen. The Louvre, the chocolate tarts, the dashing waiters, and the helpful direction-givers… You walk away grateful, sore feet, smiling big.
I’m telling you, it’s enchanting.