Postcards from Paris
I haven’t always loved Paris. In fact, when I was growing up in Geneva, Switzerland, where everything was pristine and perfect and remarkably clean, I used to think we were slumming it a little each time we drove in to France.
The first time we visited Paris, when I was quite young and it had still not gone through its many renovations and clean ups, I thought it was a big, crowded and unkempt city, not unlike my unfortunate view of the rest of France. So when my friend Muffy invited me to spend a week with their family in a hotel in Paris, at age fourteen, I didn’t exactly jump with joy. I had heard the Swiss “jokes” about France, about how things didn’t work properly, or nobody was ever on time, and people in France certainly didn’t have pristine houses like ours in Switzerland. I couldn’t understand the attraction to Paris, but I was willing to give it a try.
I remember being so pleasantly surprised when we settled into our comfortable rooms at the Hotel de St. Simon, where the walls were padded with silk toile, the courtyard was beautiful, the rooms were elegant and spotless, and the geraniums in every window were as healthy and happy as their Swiss counterparts.
Soon we were navigating the metro, visiting the newly opened “ Drugstore” on the Champs Elysees (where you could listen to your favorite music with headphones), and sampling a few wonderful restaurants and stores in our neighborhood. I tasted Croque Monsieurs for the first time, and ate so many croissants that a part of me turned to butter.
We walked through the Tuileries gardens, were introduced to the Louvre and “Jeu de Paume” museums, and were mesmerized by the Bateaux Mouches on the Seine and their miniature counterparts in the pond of the Luxembourg Gardens.
Un bateau mouche on the Seine
I loved the long, wide tree lined boulevards, like St. Germain, Raspail and St. Michel.
I loved the magnificent stone buildings and began to discern the differences between the old medieval Paris and the more recent 18th and 19th century city, with its Haussmann influences.
I was fascinated by the beauty of the architecture, the scroll work on the balconies, the massive doors and the intricate gates that led to enchanting cobblestoned courtyards.
The perfect spot to enjoy your morning cafe & croissant
I remember feeling safe and grown up and independent, where Muffy and I could maneuver the metro on our own, visit Montmartre and have our portraits sketched, run to Notre Dame to catch the end of an organ concert and sample our first decadent chocolate macaroons, at Dalloyau on the rue de Grenelle.
I learned to become a café regular, sitting on the terraces of the big wide boulevards, mastering the delicate art of flirting with the waiter and doing my best to look older and sophisticated. I remember slowly falling in love with the city of Light and thinking that someday, some time, I’d want to live there.
That dream has never died, and to this day, I have been doggedly pursuing it, with somewhat more ambition and urgency than ever before. Fortunately, with the wonderful job I have (and very understanding business partner), along with my incredibly supportive and adventurous family, this dream may be slowly turning in to a reality.
This is the beginning of a series of blogs on finding an apartment in Paris, an adventure which has taken me back to my favorite city dozens of times in the last few years, with more adventures in love and heart break than I could ever imagine. Despite all the ups and downs and all arounds, I think this one may just have a happy ending.
Stay tuned …