When Paris Glitters

It was a windy and wet day in Paris, leaving perambulators soaked and shivering. But even with my soggy jacket and tornado hair-do I was enthralled with the beauty of the city. Snapping photos to stay warm, I strolled through the posh neighborhoods with no set destination.

I watched the clouds roll by as if they were late to an important event. My mind drifted to the Paris Hotel in Vegas. I tried to explain to Clarisse the absurdity of this thought. “The skies look so picture perfect, they almost look as fake as the ones adorning the ceiling of the hotel!” At least now I could give the architects credit for their accuracy.

After a few hours of ducking in and out of boutiques and coffee shops to avoid the rain, I was soaked to the bone; it was time to head home for the night. The cold had finally set in and my fingers felt like ice. As adorable as the city was, I was in no state to continue exploring. Clarisse led the way to the subway.

We turned a corner and were met with a giant gust of wind. I was relieved to see the underground entrance nearby, already dreaming of the warm blankets and hot shower that awaited me. Clarisse stopped in her tracks and turned on her fashionable heels to face me. She grabbed my hand, pulling me in a different direction. “Nevermind, Hilary! We have one more stop to make before we go home. It’s very important.”

I didn’t object, allowing myself to be led across the street toward an industrial neighborhood. The sun was slipping behind the buildings and the air was getting colder. “As long as we get to go inside somewhere,” I pleaded.

We walked for what seemed like hours til we stood in front of an iridescent high-rise. “Where are we?” Clarisse opened the door and ushered me to an elevator without response. She pressed the button for the 56th floor and smiled. “Paris still has a few surprises for you, Hilary!”

I anxiously stepped out of the elevator, wondering what Clarisse had up her sleeve now. She led me down the hallway and pointed. I stood in stunned silence at the sight that greeted me.

“Welcome to Montparnasse Tower!” Clarisse laughed as I gasped and gushed over the panoramic views. The Tower was home to an upscale restaurant that was known for its unbeatable views of Paris’ infamous landmarks.

Clarisse got us a table while I whipped out my camera. As I pressed my nose to the glass, hostesses and waiters shot me strange glances. At first I thought it was because I was hopping up and down like a toddler, but I soon caught my reflection in the glass. I looked like a wet rat. Bashfully, I took a seat next to Clarisse. She handed me a glass of red wine. “So what do you think of our city?”

I let the plum wine sit on my tongue as I observed the tiny Parisian people below. The sun glinted off of Les Invalides, the burial site of Napoleon Bonaparte.

“I have never been somewhere so rich with history. It’s hard to believe I’m actually here right now with you.” I took another sip from my glass. “It feels like a very long dream, but a good dream. The best kind of dream.” Clarisse smiled back at me.

We sat in silence for a long time, watching the sun slip away on the horizon. I could feel the wine melting away my cares. As the sun disappeared, I started packing up my things. “No no no,” Clarisse said quickly, “I received a call from the Eiffel Tower. They have a very special surprise for you, but we must wait.” She checked her watch and winked at me. My curiosity piqued but I happily ordered another glass of wine and sank back into the velvet chair. How could this day get any better? Clarisse tapped my shoulder and pointed at the Eiffel Tower. “Look, Hilary! Paris wishes to welcome you to our beautiful city!”

Photo courtesy of ShareKhan

I couldn’t help but giggle. The Eiffel Tower sparkled with thousands of tiny glittering lights creating a spectacle unmatched in the otherwise dark sky. Flashbulbs from cameras lit up the base of the tower giving the illusion of dancing fireflies.

I toasted my host, drinking in the magical moment. “Please tell Paris that I say thank you, Clarisse, for being such a wondrous place!” I drank in the shimmering skyline, feeling very welcome indeed.

Photo courtesy of Benh

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76 thoughts on “When Paris Glitters

  1. I just reread this post (while at work on Boulevard Haussmann, no less!), and it made me smile. When you work here, Paris can become much like any other city, and yet that’s not entirely true.

    If I take the bus instead of the metro, every day on my way to work, I pass through Trocadéro and get to look at the Eiffel Tower, and only a few minutes later, we pass through the ever-dizzying Place de l’Etoile, spinning through the ballet of traffic chaos at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe before returning to the staid rush of morning commuters charging down Boulevard Haussmann.

    I have to say that I *still* can’t stop myself from staring out the window. This morning, La Dame de Fer was shrouded in fog all the way down to her waist, and in the cold, early evenings, as the Champs Elysées are beginning to dress up for Advent and Christmas, the her golden, misty halo glows like a nightlight over the darkened rooftops.

    Perhaps it’s because my time here was always meant to be temporary that I still retain a bit of the tourist wonder even after having lived here for six months, but I’m convinced that Paris is such a work of art that she demands to be admired and appreciated, and it would be a waste *not* to look up from my commute to enjoy her splendor.

    Here, toward the end of my séjour, I’m trying to savour Paris as much as I can before she’s no longer just outside my doorstep. Thank you for refreshing that sense of awe and joy I’ve always had for this city; I only wish I could have shown you around, but perhaps next time, when we’re both back in the City of Lights!

    • I definitely don’t think you’re wrong in your assessment; Paris always maintains a wonder about it. Even for the Parisians I stayed with- they grew up in the city and still adored it. I feel like a lot of cities leave you jaded. But there’s just something so sophisticated and beautiful about Paris. It demands your attention everyday. =)

      Please enjoy your last few week in Paris for me! And I’m so happy to hear someone rereads my post! (Definitely the greatest compliment, I’m sure of it. =)

      Another city at another time, I’m sure! Safe travels home!

  2. Pingback: It’s a bird! It’s a plane… No really, it’s a plane. | The Nomad Grad

  3. Such unique experience seeing the world via Vegas strip first! I love that you included the comparison here. Have magnifique time, are you still in Paris? You should hop down to Lyon if you get a chance. It was my favorite. =D

    • Thank you so much! I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the blog.

      I am back in the states at the moment, exploring the Northwest, but I hope to get back out that way soon, as I still have much more to see. =)

      Have you ever been to Vegas? Do you have a favorite place to travel? Thanks so much for stopping by!

      • Yes I love Las Vegas! Even though I’m not the type to gamble too much or go clubbing. I adore the energy and the lights =) My favorite place to travel is someplace I haven’t been yet. So at the moment, that would my upcoming trip to Guatemala! That’s so uncanny you’re in the northwest, I just wrote a blog about wanting doing a dessert tour in Portland. So if you need unique desert ideas in Portland, there it is.

  4. Lovely post. Each time I visit, I can’t get enough of the Eiffel Tower (yes, it’s a little cliche). I’m fond of the way it peaks out behind buildings and surprises you when you turn down a street. Call me silly, but I love the hourly light show as well, particularly from a distance.

    Certainly looks like a fun trip. I’m going to go read your earlier posts from Paris now, in preparation for my upcoming vacation!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I am happy to hear I was able to bring back good memories for you. Do you have a favorite Parisian moment?

      Brightest blessings to you and yours!

      -HB

      • hard to pick a single Parisian moment. i just think the whole trip was a magical “moment” – it certainly seems like just a moment now 🙂
        there was this really long walk we went on along the Seine. we stopped along the river & just sat down right by the water for about an hour. i think it was simply beautiful to find that peace.
        of course the architicture, the notre dame, le lovre, the eiffel tower – both by day & night, arc de triomphe (which i loved!!). sitting in the outdoor cafes sipping on coffee/wine – what an absolutely delightful experience.
        and, contrary to what we’d heard, the French were extremely warm, helpful & friendly people 🙂
        God bless & love always…

        • Sounds like you really milked your experience for all that it was worth! I’m so glad to hear that you were welcomed in kind by the Parisian people. I too was well received, but I’ve heard that we’re the lucky ones.

          Thank you so much for sharing! I always love to hear about other people’s adventures. Looking forward to staying in touch! =)

  5. In the eighties I took several friends one by one to PARIS..and on one of these visits(I’d been going to PARIS since school days so it was not my first visit) we were queuing up to be taken up the wonderful Tower when we were told that there had been maintenance done and they were not sure if we would get on..after about an hour and a half we were in luck…Up, up and away we were whilst giggling which was (stupidly actually) as we could have been in danger if the re;pair had not been performed correctly..Now when I think back we must have looked like idiots dressed in Japanese Kimonos, leather boots with studs, jewellry to match and very spiky hair..we hoped that it would not break down..as we sat in the HUGE Resturaunt from just after 12 Noon until 5pm taking in the lovely scenery, chilling out, deciding where to go next, mingling with other visitors, playing with kids who joined our table it was wonderful watching from above..Felt a bit like our own little HEAVEN! Just wished to share this with you as many of you will have done the same..

  6. Gorgeous photos especially the one with the beam of sunlight in my favourite city..this brings back so memories of this majical city..if I go every year for a lifetime I will never see ALL the ART, MUSIC, SCENERY etc..thanks for posting this..felt like I was there for a moment in time..

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I am happy to hear that I was able to capture some of the beauty of this amazing city for you!

      And I think you’re absolutely right… In a lifetime one could not possibly take in all the beauty, art, and magic in the world. Thank goodness for blogs and sharing souls =).

      • Thank-you…Will have some dreams/Spiritual experiences to write about which occurred in PARIS over a period of time..I have a backdrop painted in terracotta ready for me to infill the TOWER with some mystical parts..have a huge paste sketch abov emy bed and a Vintage Map of PARIS on my bedroom wall reminding of of where I plan to live at my END..just a dream but working towards making it happen very successfully so far…time will tell…just back from hospital but will look in again soon..watching a film as a treat for being good at my studies as I am jsut an amateur yet..nite all..

          • Thanks Hilary..there is no ending as such…it’s just a series of stories as and when they happen now via Dreams and some from the past…on ongoing Blog story thing..for now anyway..Due to eyes I’m sometime snot on here for a few days and sometimes I appear online when I forget to swtich it off..your photos are great…better than any I have ever seen..will get these pushed through various places like Stumbletupon to let people read your story too…minde is all about the unusual as this is how my life has been since I was five years old and lucky for me my friends are the same and several have seen Jim years ago all with a purpose, mpostly illness or something life-changing..no END as yet…it just gets written as the Spirit moves me and I have lots to paint so may be offline for a while but each time I say this I am back here..I ALWAYS try and check ALL my sites and reply where I can…thanks for taking time…hope you are well..if I ws younger I would not stay in one place…PARIS, SAN FRANCISCO and many of the EASTERN Countries like ASIA nad MIDDLE EAST I love but it’s sad so much desructgion in the name of GOD or whatever…Goodnite from Scotland(Not where I would have chosen to live but circumstances decided this for me after father’s death)…some parts of okay and the folk are mixed types too more so than in any other place I have been so I would not wish to end my days here but then one never knows…happy enlough though…just my feelings…I’m ENGLISH and SPANISH..African Descent..

  7. Hi Nomad Grad! I’m Wandering College Kid. Nice to make your acquaintance; I’m going through the exact same problem as you – I don’t know where to go next in my life. But you seem to be travelling the world while I sit at home. Maybe yours was the better decision, huh! Makes for SUCH an interesting blog! Say bonjour to your new follower!

    • Hello, Wandering College Kid! Thank you for taking the time to stop by! =)

      I don’t necessarily think my decision was a ‘better’ decision, just different. I love reading your blog and think that you are figuring out your path in your own unique way! I look forward to staying in touch!

      Please keep writing!

    • I would certainly agree! Thanks for reading =).

      Let me know what your schedule looks like and if you would have time for a coffee or something. It would be so great to meet you and hear your stories!

    • Thank you, Janet! I am flattered that you like my photos!

      You certainly are a great role model for budding writers such as myself. I hope to one day be as successful and inspirational as you! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  8. I’ve never seen the restaurant view before, the highest i’ve been was the Eiffel Tower. How was the food? And how did you get the gorgeous picture with the heart? Someone standing behind you?

    • The food was great! We just ordered some appetizers and wine since we had other dinner arrangements. It’s a pricey little place (as far as my budget was concerned) but absolutely worth it for the one-of-a-kind views.

      Yes, Clarisse (my hostess) took the photo for me while I made the heart with my hands. It’s one of my favorite photos from the trip =).

      Thank you so much for stopping by to comment! I love reading your blog. Keep it up!

  9. Ah the city of love, I’m jealous! Great photos, especially the day-time skyline w/ the Eiffel Tower. Just gorgeous.
    How’s the Parisian coffee?

    • Hi Matt,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment.

      The Parisian coffee is to die for. I have never been somewhere with such delectable food. It’s really hard to go wrong while in Paris, but I also recommend the hot chocolate and chai lattes.

      Do you have a favorite coffee so far? Where did you find it? Keep writing!

      • No kidding, eh. Next time I’m in Paris I’ll try both. And the wine of course. You’re in food and beverage heaven! My goodness…

        As for the coffee, INTELLIGENTSIA BLACK CAT is a popular roast that I like and you might have tried before. It’s tasty.

        I’ll be back to check out the crazy adventures that I’m sure lay in store for you. Cheers.

  10. You certainly do take some wonderful photos – I wish I was able to get better pictures when I go on trips, but I seem to be incapable of getting appropriately memorable and blog-worthy snapshots. o_O

    I’ll just have to keep trying… hopefully it comes with practice! ^^;

  11. I am really enjoying your travels in Paris. Somehow you pare it down to size when I know it’s really overwhelming. I spent a few days in Paris about 10 years ago and came away stunned by the immensity and grandeur. My favorite part was riding a bateau mouche. BTW, in the Louvre’s cafe, I sat next to a French woman who was very gracious when I tried out my college French on her.

    Enjoying your blog. Thanks, Hillary.

    • Thank YOU for being so kind to comment and say such encouraging things! It is always appreciated.

      It sounds like you had quite a lovely experience in Paris. Did you get a chance to spend time in the countryside or surrounding countries?

      Please keep writing! I always enjoy reading your blog. Thank you again!

  12. I’ve seen the tower twinkle at night from a distance. They left those lights up after the millenium celebration.
    I’m really glad they did. Yes, it is stunningly beautiful.

    • I am so glad you got the opportunity to see them! As I was writing this post I was trying to find a way to describe them, but all I could remember were the emotions I felt as I watched them dance.

      Do you have any trips planned in the near future? How’s the cold water surfing?

      • Going to scrape the wax off my board to to store until spring. Too damn cold now even for me.
        Hoping to get to Portland in the near future for a week. And indiana for van halen, but that’ll be in and out.
        Where are you off to next?

        • Haha, sounds like a good plan to me! Portland, huh? How fun!

          I am heading to the peninsula (Port Townsend) off of Washington in a few weeks. I’m going to try to stop by Portland as well, as I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the city. Then, if the stars align, I’ll be taking a trip to the South Pacific in late spring. Always an adventure! =)

  13. How incredibly beautiful! When I visited Paris for a day, I got to visit the Montparnasse and see the Eiffel Tower at night, too! The sunset and night view looks absolutely stunning, though– I didn’t get to stay long enough to see it. Great photos!

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