During my six years living in Europe, I traveled several times to Paris. During those trips I was either working or visiting friends. I had never been on a romantic trip to Paris until I met the Dutchman last year. Last year, two weeks before leaving Brussels for good, we hopped on the Thalys (the high-speed train) to Paris for a few days. The trip was on a whim, as I was leaving soon and we had only been dating for a month. One day he said, “we should go to Paris” and given my love for travel, I jumped at the idea. We spent 2 days walking the streets of Paris, sharing an ice cream cone at one of the gardens in Versailles, kissing by the Eiffel Tower, and getting to know one another over tea at a café near Centre Pompidou. The day we headed back to Belgium, the city was under siege by torrential rains. We tried the metro, then a cab trying to make it to the station on time to no avail. It was the last train of the day. I had a race to run the early the next morning. It was our first crisis together and although a little nervous, we were going through the options. I recall saying “maybe the train is delayed”, he just brushed off my theory. As we rushed to the platform, there it was: the Paris to Brussels train was late! We both hugged and said “I love you” for the first time. For that, Paris Nord will always have a special place in my heart.
|Notre Dame from the Seine….|
Fast forward 9 months later, and we find ourselves back on the Thalys to Paris. Just a short stop on my summer Eurotrip, but it was an experience to go back to one of the places where our story started to take shape. We stayed at Mama Shelter, a cute boutique hotel near Pere Lachaise. I love staying in residential neighborhoods, away from the tourists where you get a feel how the locals live. The hotel has small quirks like superhero masks as lampshades and black walls. We began our stay with a lovely dinner at L’Ange Gardien, a little bistro close to the hotel. Thanks to the unusually hot weather, we sat outside, studying the people walking by as we enjoyed the white wine, scallops, and duck. The lovely dinner set the stage for a charming 48 hours in the city of light.
|All you need in life: Champagne and Cheese|
The following morning we went for a run, crossing the 11th arrondissement, through Bastille until making it to the Seine. After our run, we went to a boat cafe, overlooking the Notre Dame. It was a beautiful and peaceful scene. That afternoon, we did what most lovebirds do in Paris, placed a lock at the Pont de l’Archevêché. We bought a simple Master lock and borrowed the shopkeeper’s sharpie to write our names and the dates. As we placed our lock, I couldn’t help to get a little emotional as we affirmed our love on the bridge. Afterwards, we went to the riverbank nearby to have a picnic with champagne, truffled brie, and crackers. There we stayed for hours, admiring the boats sailing across the river and taking in the sunset.
|The locks of the Pont de l’Archevêché|
Our last day, we walked through the Pere Lachaise cemetery to catch our metro. We admired the ancient tombs, some who have not been taken care of in centuries. It was still early in the morning and not that many tourists. There was something very peaceful about the place: the scent of the moss, birds singing, and seeing a piece of history of people who had influence in making Paris one of the most beautiful and intriguing cities in the world. We embarked on this trip with no agenda, just walk through the city and take in the little things which make it so special. This time, both the train and us were on time. We boarded with new memories and many new ideas for our future.