Monday, August 23, 2010

Paris is Magic

Anyone who would say otherwise has not visted the same city I did. You think you know monuments from post cards and stock photography. I felt this same amazement when visiting the Grand Canyon; that just nothing can prepare you for the real thing. So when you stand beneath something like the Eiffel Tower, you are stunned. And you are thrilled like a child, your heart is beating rapidly with wonder, realizing that something familiar was far more special than you could ever have expected, now that you stand under its eaves and wonder at its engineering and prowess. Paris and I, much like London and I, have had an interesting relationship through the years. I've felt I've long known Paris, and in certain ways I have. I knew a bit of French from high-school (and I am proud to say I used it as best I could). I'd long ago fallen in love with the great 19th century French writers, artists, composers, etc. So visiting Paris was, much like London, greeting a long lost friend. I said hello to the gorgeous Garnier Opera house and at long last ascended its grand staircase. The palace that inspired The Phantom of the Opera, Leroux' novel and Webber's musical combined in a seminal childhood obsession that began my fascination with the 19th century. I owe this building much, one of many sacred places on our tour. Paris is a city of magic. A 'city of light' indeed, a city endeared to me long ago. But in walking its streets, in praying hard and long at a Notre Dame mass, it will remain a city forever in my heart, not just an acquaintence but now a friend. The view from our hotel windows proved that the grandeur of Paris exists for the whole world to celebrate; Gare du Nord station an impressive palace at our doorstep.


I believe a gauge of a famous, historical city's spirit is by traveling upon its waterway. Understanding where the Thames is in relationship to London is critical, as is the Seine in Paris, the Meuse through Verdun, the The Rhine through Germany. One of my priorities in this course of travel was to feel the beat of that particular vein, for in understanding a city's body of water you understand a key to its history, a key to its magic. Water and graveyards, these were my priorities. Thankfully my family humored my mission to examine the many necropolis quarters housed withing the cities on our tour. Pere-Lachaise is a stunning necropolis not to be missed. I would not have traded my tearful moment at the grave of one of my most beloved authors; Oscar Wilde, for the world. I left a prayer with Oscar, asking for his blessing towards my future project. I hope someday soon to be less cryptic about that, but all in good time.
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A city of light in every way, Saint Chapelle certainly did not disappoint, with its walls of coloured glass...
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Upon the rails, heading east, I felt and saw a France outside of its superstar capital city. Just as charming and lovely in its own right. And full of stories to tell.
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Next, I will write about Verdun. And my entry recounting Verdun will be unlike anything I have ever written on this blog. I shall leave cute and bouncy recollections of adventures behind in order to talk about one of the most sobering, complex moments of my soul and my writer's imagination. Until Verdun, au revoir.

3 comments:

Deborah Schneider said...

Ah, Paris! I was there last December with a friend and we squealed like school girls over the Eiffel Tower. Adored the art work at the Louvre, and ate the best food I've ever tasted. I can't wait to get back there next year. And then it's on to the chateau in Provence for a family reunion. Have fun!

Hanna said...

I'm taking French this year (and most likely all through high school). :) Since school just started, I only know four phrases and none of them apply to this post, so I can't say anything. hehe. Paris looks lovely - but I'd take England of France any day. :)

With love,
Hanna

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Thanks Deborah! How wonderful a return trip! You'll have to share the wonders.

Hanna - keep up with French! I SO deeply regret I didn't keep taking it after high school!