In the little café, bright colored fold out chairs, circular tables and mosaic décor on the inside walls, I shared a too-salty quiche with Sarah. I watched a young chef in a restaurant across the way—in and out of the push swing door, top button of his white uniform undone, bring out the wind, then plates, then casual conversation to the tables outside. How handsome he was, and for me so seemingly French with his square jaw line, soft brown thick curls and prominent nose. I heard French all around me and it merely mixed in with the soft stringed music in the air.
We’ve watched too many films. When reality is real, the French chef, the yellow quiche, the dainty French music, present themselves I am reminded of a film—this can’t be real, I think, it’s much too choreographed. But it wasn’t. Touristic, it was, But authentic, it was somehow that too.
No wonder writers, dancers, musicians, painters, poets and chefs have all come to Paris. Beauty and aesthetic waft along the grey river, over lamp covered bridges and through wrought iron terraces. The City of Lights is everything they say it is, becoming even more magical at night and surely causing us to fall in Love.
It has no particular smell, Paris. Only moments of unconscious inhalation that bring sudden scents: croissants! doughnuts! lemon sugar crepes! Much as the people in the city aren’t one specific kind but short or dark, redhead or thin, hairy or pale.
We only rushed once in Paris. With evening boat ride tickets and 9 and an Eifel Tower climb at 7:30, we knew it’d be a close call, and after Sarah met 4 handsome Chileans at the top, I knew it’d be closer.
The quick rhythm clunk of my fancy boots hitting the golden illuminated stairs fell in unison with Sarah’s behind and we swung around each flight, gaining ever so closer to the wide base of the 7,300 ton most visited monument.
We called as we flew down, faster and faster, loving the rush of the hurry, the feeling of importance—we’ve got a boat to catch!
And we did catch the boat. We sat by a Scottish five year old and her red headed mother. We went under gilded bridges and sighted teenagers drinking on the cement shores.
It’s no wonder they call it The City of Love, for there’s never a lack of seemingly happy couples—kissing on bridges, holding hands on the promenade, gazing at one another over a small table in a café. In other moments we’ve asked how to attribute the magic, how to explain its existence —Was it my youth? The people? The place? This time yes. Paris, the city itself, is magical. It’s not buzzing like New York City, or loud and alive like late night Madrid in July, nor is it friendly and cozy like the pubs and people that make Dublin. It’s elegant. Refined. Existing both in the big and in the details. A grandiose woman, over 600 years old, tall and stunning, and forever knowing so. She doesn’t offer you her wild nights, to touch her breasts, but merely just to see, to absorb all she is with our eyes, which of course, is enough.