Song of the Post: I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday
Last Day in Paris
- Luxembourg Gardens
- Pâtisserie Viennoise
- Place du Panthéon, Paris University
Note: I forgot to add a song choice to my previous Paris posts but it’s back! I’ll be recommending songs that have been playing on repeat on my Spotify or one that is suitable specifically to the post. You’ll almost never see me without earphones when I’m alone in public or see me in sitting in silence without some noise in the background.
My last day in Paris started with strolling Jardin de Luxembourg. It was another rainy morning and another autumn-like day.
I may get a scoff or an eye-roll or two, but as beautiful as Paris is, as gorgeous as Jardin du Luxembourg was, it was nothing out of the extreme ordinary.
Coming from a hometown known to be Canada’s City of Gardens where our city ensures that there are two healthy, blooming flower baskets on each light post in downtown, and the home of the Buchart Gardens, the jardin was beautiful…but nothing more. However, the styles are very different between what I am used to and the jardin.
The jardin focused on symmetry and was manicured to look as if it was made for people by people. The gardens I am used to seeing has a certain rustic and “messy and natural” charm and aesthetics to the gardens. Both equally magnificent.
I immersed myself in the gardens by sitting at Pavillion de la Fontaine and finished some postcards.
I googled “hot chocolate” around the jardin to experience a french chocolat chaud. Unlike the ones I am used to, this thick, heavy, creamy bitter liquid was anything but cavity-causing sweet. I am a girl that prefers at least 60% cocoa in chocolate bars so dark, bitter chocolate is definitely my jam. This type of chocolat chaud is meant for sipping and quite a popular choice for children’s start to the morning. I mean, let’s save the caffeine kick for the adults…right?
I spent a good two hours here writing on a wobbly varnished dark wooden table while French women chatted with each other during their work break or steadily enjoyed their lunch solo. The women who worked here were in their mid-ages and hustled from the kitchen to the cash register with no hesitation. I could catch a few “madame’s” and “bonjour’s” but with the hustle came extremely fast-paced French that was just an inaudible melodic chatter. And even so, Paris is on their own schedule, existing in between seconds.
Place du Panthéon, Paris University
I walked mindlessly towards somewhere and ended up at Place du Panthéon. Here, the famous Paris University’s Faculte de Driot (Faculty of Law) is erected with France’s timeless “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” national motto. I watched from the Panthéon where people stood in line and passed through security to be part of this historic school.
I felt pressured to go in because it is so well known and even seeing people go in made me think that I had to go. Ah – but wait! I don’t have to do anything I am not interested in. My visit to Paris was to settle into Europe a bit before I was on the go every few days for the next 3 weeks. I was in no rush yet. So, I sat along with a few tourists or locals, on the steps of the Panthéon and tried to remember all 5 senses:
Eyes – the narrowing road ahead bordered with Parisian buildings that housed overly-priced souvenir shops and luxury goods. The horizon were multiple shades of grey twirling and eloping with one another.
Nose – brisk post-rain smell tainted with sewage and concrete. The cloudiness brought a fresh musky scent that was spring-like but dampened with early-fall.
Lips – the slightly humid air warmed my mouth and despite air tasting like nothing, I tasted Paris for the last time.
Ears – cars, excited tourist chatters, occasional frustrated honks, murmur of distant traffic that spread for miles and miles, while tires glided through puddles and slapped water against the pavement.
Touch – the cold stone steps of the Panthéon held my hand, supported my body as I allowed my senses to be remembered.
The day ended with a stroll in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés and I made sure I had a glimpse of Les Deux Magots before I left the city. This was the place where intellectuals of all areas came and gathered to discuss, debate and learn with each other. Incredible people like Julia Child, Simone de Beauvoir, and Pablo Picasso were patrons of this cafe.
Because of it’s history, tourism is one of the best ways to commodify the past. I didn’t feel like paying more than 2 euros for a coffee so I admired from afar. One day, I will go back and dedicate a whole day to my thoughts, writing and art in this beautiful establishment.
I loved Paris. I adored the diverse liveliness and deep pockets of sub-cultures that made up this beautiful city.
But…I didn’t fall head-over-heels for this city. Did I love Paris? Absolutely! Would I live here? Yes! I think I didn’t let myself be completely pre-occupied by the city because I had so much more of Europe left to discover, I didn’t want to have my “standards” set already.
For me, Paris would be a place for a independent spiritual revival, a soul-naissance. I could see myself living in Paris for a few months, practicing my French and really taking my time and giving all my attention to the museums, art galleries, people watching, shows, exhibitions and way of living. Taking a cooking classes, going to random art-shows, sitting at a cafe for hours drunkenly watching people live their lives and likely never to cross in to mine, locking eyes with strangers and feeling that ignition, smelling Paris in the rain, and heavily romanticize the city as any foreigner would *eye roll and acceptance smile of ‘yes, that’s me and I know what I’m saying’*.
One thing I was hoping to catch was some social justice demonstration. With the unrest of immigration and refugees in Europe in the past few years and the global outburst of feminism, racial inequality awareness – it would have been absolutely outstanding to have been part of or witness some protest in this city. The ever-lasting curious and investigative side of me would have jumped right in and experience the gathering of humanity based on humanity’s worst.
But, that’s it Paris. Au revoir, bonsoir, and I’ll be seeing you again.