we floated into France at the break of day, the sunrise reflecting on the fog rising from the warm earth. a queue and a stamp and a taxi ride later, we witnessed beautiful views of Paris at dawn, the tourists already up and about snapping photos and inhaling croissants from boulangeries.
we walked the streets of Saint Germain, meandered through the Sunday Marche, bought scarves and strawberries and mandarins you could smell from feet away. a few church bells rang, but even more noticeable were the putter patter of French feet on the ground as runners swiftly passed us by. Luxembourg Gardens was full of them- packs of runners following each other around the perimeter of the large green space.
swaths of bouncing tennis balls and fallen leaves, yellow, brown, and red, dotted the landscape of the public garden. grandfathers with their grandchildren, women reading in chairs, toddlers exploring the statues and fountains and earth. one woman was walking with a gym bag smoking a cigarette. and then I remembered- so many cigarettes! maybe one in every three passersby’s.
we snacked on baguettes, churned butter, and fresh fruit, then napped into the day. I awoke and walked towards the Seine, the sun bright between the buildings. I arrived at the Orsay mid afternoon, with a timed ticket there is not much of a queue.
romanticism, realism, symbolism… beautiful canvases strewn on walls. most struggling artists in life, yet glorified in death. a concept not foreign to just France, yet seems to overwhelmingly be riddled with truth for those who have lived here though time. the impressionist hall was the most crowded, and my favorite. enough Renoir and Manet to keep my heart full. one post impressionist room had tourists on top of each other, struggling for photographs: Van Gogh’s self portrait- not my favorite but famous I suppose.
a walk down to the Seine to meet the sommelier and away we went, one door in front of the other, deep into the Latin Quarter. we stopped for a pint at a cafe, then walked some more. we landed at a quaint seafood restaurant with a list carved out by famous wine nerds who have a penchant for Burgundy. Champagne, tiny mussels, local oysters, razor clams, salmon, Meursault, cod, and skate wing filled our tummies, followed by bress pastry and cognac. the room started to feel sleepy.
the city of lights is never dark, and walking the half hour back to our apartment felt necessary. snug and warm off rue du cherche de midi, we crumpled into slumber. a lovely first day in the city of artists, light, and love.