Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day In Paris

Having no luggage, feels like no ‘baggage’. 

I remember only too well,  traveling around in my 20’s with just one bag and it is liberating.  I have a secret wish that they don’t find the suitcase, even although there are things in there I don’t want to lose.  What it did mean though, was no unpacking.

What else to do but venture out!

The streets are quiet with a handful of locals and tourists but mostly locals en route to family with bags full of presents. 

The ice crunches under my feet like broken glass.  The footpaths are icy with snow to the sides.  I sheepishly but quickly learn where to walk, the snow is best, the ice is slippery.

The water in the downpipes is frozen, like it was just about to make that last stop to the pavement but froze before it got there.

I headed down La Seine to walk along it towards the Notre Dame and was amazed to watch a team of Police floating down the river in wet suits on some sort of exercise, floating with the current as if it was the middle of summer!

Although the sky is brilliantly blue the breeze is icy and I am bloody cold and still pinching myself that it is Christmas day, it has been snowing and I am in Paris for my White Christmas.

Hotel de Ville or the Town Hall sets up an ice skating rink each year at Christmas and I have always managed to miss it but now it is in full swing. 

A few novices but quite a lot of good skaters, spinning around, speed skating backwards, chasing one another around the rink.  I check to see who has their own boots and who has hired them. 

It reminds me of when I used to skate at St Moritz in St Kilda, Melbourne as a little girl.  My nana had me all dressed up in a white dress with fur trim, I could barely skate to save my self but I looked the part and used to love it.  While she sat shivering and knitting away I would call out to her, ‘nana look at me’ and she would give me a nod as I did the rounds.

I would love to get out there today – music blasting just like in St Kilda but I don’t want to risk a broken hip or losing some fingers, so I just smile and take a few photos of the skaters and the ponds that have frozen over.

Another detour for a glimpse of La Sainte-Chappell, a couple more sleeps to go and I will be inside to listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons!

It is freezing and I think a Christmas drink is in order at Au Petit Fer a Cheval, my favourite bar in Le Marais.   I stand at the bar, sip my wine, say hello to Hussein and breath.  Yes I am really here.

As I head off for Notre Dame, I can tell that Christmas lunch is over, more and more people are out and about and by the time I reach Notre Dame the place is heaving with tourists. 

My promise to myself was to stand on the brass disc in the hope that it will grant me another visit to Paris but the poor thing must be exhausted with every man, woman, child, and their dog, and Japanese tour group, standing on it, surrounding it, having their photo taken on it, next to it, around it, that I decided; I could wait.

I had some roasted chestnuts, wrapped carefully in magazine pages, took some photos, sat next to a woman who was crying and wondered if she had the weepy Paris Adele disease.  I was approached by the usual scammers who claim to be official donation collectors but who scram when the police arrive and finally my turn presented its self. 

It was empty, there it was, that small disc in the pavement in front of the Notre Dame, not a soul on it and I took my moment.  Quietly and calmly, I placed one foot and then the other, looked up at the beautiful façade of Le Notre Dame, took in a deep breath and said to myself, hello, you were right, I am back.

Finally after a beautiful day of wandering around, taking it in, taking photos, breathing in the chilly air, I decided it was time to visit my friend Bouba and have an early dinner. 

After a lovely warm greeting and a glass of wine, I discovered that my cafe doesn’t do proper cooked food anymore and just salads and such.  Oh well a goats cheese salad and a warm welcome was enough for me.

It had been a long day and best to head off ‘home’ – I took the scenic route! Not on purpose – got a little lost and being lost around big railway stations is usually dodgy in any city but I made it home safe and well.

If or when my baggage arrives, I will post photos, the cables are … you guessed it … in the baggage.

Happy Christmas from Paris.


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