Paris is Burning
And in the shadowless unclouded glare
Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where
A misty sea-line meets the wash of air.
My hotel, New Hotel Gare du Nord, was, literally, across the street from the station. Most of the travel sites listed it as a two star, so I wasn't expecting much. The room was tiny, but clean, which is really all I care about at a hotel. The only shitty thing was the promised free wi-fi wasn't working, so I had to walk down the street to McDonald's. This was the one and only time I ate fast food in Europe. I had a le double cheese, petite frite et grande Coke, and I'm not ashamed to say it was pretty damn tasty.
I bought a carnet – a stack of 10 tickets – and set off for Ile de la Cite, the island in the center of the Seine where Notre-Dame is located. This is one my favorite spots in the city and I knew the late afternoon light would be beautiful for some photographs. I walked around the island, sat for a moment in the plaza at Notre-Dame and then went down to walk along the Seine on the Left Bank.
Cecilia suggested we meet in Place des Vosges, a beautiful square full of fountains and playgrounds ringed by townhouses and shops. It was another beautiful evening, and the temperature had cooled down a bit. We sat and talked for a bit and then walked to the Left Bank to stop in Shakespeare & Co. bookshop. It was packed with people and we chatted with the clerk about upcoming events and recently released books. Cecilia bought a new copy of A Moveable Feast and then we walked along Quai de Montebello to Cafe Panis for dinner. We took a table right on the street with a commanding view of Notre-Dame and the Seine. It was great to catch up with Cecilia over wine and omelets.
We walked back to Cecilia's flat (on the top floor of a beautiful building in the Marais district) and the streets and cafes were buzzing on a Friday night. It was a long walk, but I saw so many little corners of Paris I'd never seen before and we wound up back at Republique Square where Cecilia and I said our goodbyes.
This visit to Paris was far too short.