Monday, May 21, 2007

[The Life of Shaun #117] Paris '07

Well, it'd been a while, so some friends and I decided to pop onto the Eurostar, under the English Channel and into the Gallic capital for a weekend of quaint streets, gorgeous food and disapproving scowls*.  My friends Sean and Aaron went on Thursday, Ben and Roger on Friday, then I joined the lot on Saturday morning.

The first part of the day was devoted to culture at Musée d'Orsay, which I never got to when I lived there or when I visited in 2005.  (Side note: I was extremely cultural this past week!  Tate Modern last Monday, National Portrait Gallery on Friday, Musée d'Orsay Saturday, and another to come... more than I've done in my entire life previously, I think!)  It's in such an awesome space, a disused train terminal; it was going to be knocked down à la Penn Station in New York, but fortunately someone there had a sense of sanity and it was saved and converted into a glorious museum.  Lots of good stuff there.  That night was dinner and, as it was the "Night of Museums" and all the museums were open late, we went to the Pompidou at 23:30.

When I lived in Paris it would be a lie to say it was a positive experience at the time; I mean, it was, but being 18 and not speaking French, it was an overwhelming first place from home to live.  Then when I visited in 2005, I'd lived in New York for seven years and then London, so if anything Paris was a bit underwhelming.  However, going up the escalators to the top floor of the Pompidou this time, looking out at Paris at night, from the Sacré-Cœur, to the Opera, the Arc de Triomphe, the Grand Palais, then the Tour Eiffel and realising that just beyond that is where I lived, I understood how amazing that was.  I think being in Paris with particularly good company helped, too.

Sunday was a much more relaxing day!  Aaron and I met up with Sean & Roger at a Hammam while Ben went about the city taking photos.  After that we parted ways, Sean, Ben and Roger back to London, Aaron and I checking out the new T3 tram and then retiring to a cafe for some rest.  Taking time in Paris to see public transport may seem odd, but I like that kind of thing; and the description was great - this is Paris, after all, so installing a new tram involved designers, colourists, artists and psychologists.  The trains are the new ones where you can walk from the front to back of the train, and the colours change from front to back so that you can sit in a compartment that suits your mood that day.  Only in Paris!  But good thing to have that colour as the tram runs through charmless grey neighbourhoods and the bottom of the 13éme, 14éme and 15éme - those people need a dash of dazzle in their lives!

Sunday night a lovely dinner in le Marais before heading to bed and coming back to London and reality (ugh!) this morning.  If you'd like, here are some pics from the weekend:

A really lovely weekend, and whole week, actually, and I was sad to see it end.  But all things must and it's time to look forward and onto the next thing: China (yikes!!!) in three weeks, followed closely by Athens & Mykonos for my sister Lisa's wedding.  Oh, and I need to find a job.  Anyone hiring?

A plus tard,

*Actually, that's playing on the stereotypes and the Parisiens are much friendlier than you might suppose; of course this time I was with two people who spoke French pretty well, which didn't hurt...

Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK
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