Saturday, March 5, 2011


The weather was not warm due to the clouds and a bit of a breeze, which is why it made that Paris afternoon so much more enchanting and romantic. We started our walk form the formal 28-hectare park, Jardin des Tuileries, across the famous Louvre museum. A historic and grand golden decorated archway marked the park's beginning which led us into a long and wide pathway lined with evenly spaced white sculptures on both sides. The wide walkway was paved with gravel and sandwiched with grass, trees and flowers. Park benches provided resting areas for tourists and locals. A modest pool stood in the heart of the park making the pathway larger and rounder and it housed a more modest fountain in the center of it. Colorful chairs were placed around the pool, I imagine that they would be more in demand on a warmer day. As we walked down the gravel pathway we looked up at the white sculptures that depicted warriors, religious figures, common men and women and wild animals. The clouds and patches of blue sky in the background made the art figures even more memorizing to look at. These ancient art pieces had not made it to the grand museum across the way because of their cheaper material, unlike their marble counterparts. We came to the end of the long walk across the park where we met the park's exit and found ourselves in The square with Concord Obelisk.
The square was very large, wide and grand, just like the Louvre and the park. In the middle of the square stood a tall and slim monument which is an allegory of Law. On each side of the square sat two grand, gaudy, highly decorated and majestic fountains that shot up gallons of water into the sky. The square was lit with beautiful tall lamps that surrounded the street edges. Then came the most wonderful surprise that left us in awe as we looked up to the left and gazed at the top of the Eiffel Tower peaking it's head out from behind the buildings and trees. History says that after the French Revolution (which marked the end of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), this square was where hundreds of men and women were beheaded. The blood on the ground was so much and the stench in the air was so strong that herds of sheep refused to walk close to this area. Today, it looks beautiful as we crossed it and started walking down Aveue des Champs-Elysees.
Long and wide, this boulevard was the center of many shops, restaurants, cafes and street vendors. It was crowded with cars and pedestrians bustling on by, some tourists and mostly locals, The French! or should I say The Parisians! Shopping, eating, soliciting, walking, smooching, the Parisians were out on the Chaps-Elysees with their great, cool, chic casual style. All the Parisians (men and women) wore scarves, long scarves, short scarves, checkered scarves, plain scarves, striped scarves, tied scarves, wrapped scarves, loos scarves, tight scarves. Scarves here, scarves there, scarves every where, the French like scarves. The shops around the boulevard were not very high end as we walked by Gap, H&M and Zara, so I was surprised to come across a multiple story large Louis Vuiton. I guess that is just another regular store for the fashionable French!
This boulevard was long and we were tired and hungry, it was time for rest and fuel. As much as a French cafe or bistro would fit this scenario perfectly, we decided to dine at a casual Italian restaurant that had side walk seating. We watched with envy the glamorous and cool French walk by as we enjoyed our delicious Italian meal with a side of vino.
My brand new expensive walking shoes bought from Nordstrom specifically for this trip was not being very nice to me and I was not going to let it put a damper on my evening by cutting into the heel of my foot. Therefore a 6 Euro pair of socks was purchased from the little crowded souvenir store in the corner. I made sure that it was engraved with the word "Paris" as it was my first purchase in this glamorous city!
At the end of the Champs-Elysees was what we could see from all the way at the beginning of our walk where we started. The famous monument had been growing bigger and bigger as we had been taking steps toward it. We were at Arc de Triomphe.
Napoleon wanted to create a place where his military victories would be celebrated and displayed, so he chose this hilltop to build a grand Arc. The Arc was built successfully but Napoleon never made it to walk through it (at least alive). Now this grand monument sits proudly on one of the largest roundabouts in the world (the center connects 12 boulevards and streets) and it is the resting place of an unknown soldier. Fresh flowers are always present on the soldier's grave and a fire constantly burns in the center pit. As we stood next to this great archway, we not only marveled at the history that stood behind it, but we also were at awe of the beauty of this memorizing city surrounding us. The narrow brick and stone streets, the elegant balconies on the fancy buildings and the careless and cool feel of it made the city even more special. The wind was becoming faster and stronger and we were on top of a hill so we moved on, we walked back down Champs-Elysees.
As we walked back dusk turned into dark, the clouds started getting heavier and the street lamps were turned on. We passed by cafes and restaurants filled with people dining, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes. We passed by Musee D'Orsay, we passed by a quiet and small park as well as almost empty side walks. And finally, we would not be true Iranians if we did not stop at the famous Iran Air on the Champs-Elysees to pay our respect!
Now we were back in Place de la Concorde square and that was when the night became truly enchanting and romantic. It was night time and dark, the stars were shining through the clouds and there were less cars going by. The square and the surrounding streets were lit by the elegant and fancy lamps that stood tall. The center monument as well as the two fountains were also lit up, yet what was truly shining glorious light on the area was the beautifully lit up Eiffel Tower that not only shined itself, but also displayed a soft light on it's peak which made circles and gazed around the city. It was at that point that the clouds gave in and started drizzling, a beautiful, wonderful, cool, slow and misty rain that made this night unforgettable and truly lovely. We stood in the middle of the square silently, watching the lights, admiring the bright iconic tower, listening to the water splash out of the fountains, looking up at the dark sky, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the smooth drops of rain on our faces. At that point in time we were connected to the far away history and to the present beauty of this lovely city at the same time. It was a magical magical evening in the lovely city of Paris.