Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eternal Paris

Part of the joy of travel is returning to places you have been before and still being enthralled with what you find there. It is the true sign of a great destination that regardless of how many times you come back you are still in awe, still have that "I have to pinch myself to believe I'm actually here" feeling. I ALWAYS get that feeling in Paris, whether I'm there a day, or a week, or simply passing thru Charles deGaulle Airport.

On the Devil Dog's recent sojourn through Champagne and Burgundy, which you have read endlessly about in recent posts (and which I never tire of extolling), we began with a brief stopover in Paris, by brief I mean less than 24 hours. Sad, yes, but not so sad, in that it gave me a chance to walk some of my favorite boulevards and breathe in the energy of the "City of Light", knowing I would return again and again.
Paris is irretrievably lovely, fatally beautiful, and unrepentent in its sublime enthusiasm. We were staying at the Marriot Le Parc Trocadero, quite near the Arc de Triumphe, a very nice hotel with an expansive courtyard surrounded by a series of wings of the hotel in separate buildings where the rooms were. I arrived in mid-afternoon, and immediately set off to walk through the 8th arrondisment (district) to some of my favorite places.
I spent the first 5 days of my honeymoon in Paris, and have been back numerous times in the ensuing 14 years. My favorite shopping street is Ave Montagne (whose isn't), where the most luminous names in fashion have their flsgship stores- Dior, la Croix, Prada, Yves St Laurent, Gucci....all but Thierry Mugler, whose store was closed several years ago (and whose fashion empire now exists only as Angel perfume and its assorted sub-products) . Also on Ave. Montagne is the exquisite Plaza Athenee Hotel, one Paris's finest hotels. (seen below)

In my earlier trips I had eaten at a Chinese restaurant in the area, had always loved their curry chicken, and was on a quest to find it. I knew it was somewhere obscure, and continued my search through the warren of streets, past familiar sights and lovely buildings, until I found it, tucked away on Ave de la Rennaissance, a totally non-descript place, but it was open (and empty) and the same old woman who waited on me five years earlier was there. My compatriots later chided me for searching Paris for Chinese food at one obscure run down restaurant, but let me tell you, the curry chicken was still fabulous, and there is nothing like finding a piece of memory and discovering it was still as good, and as quaint, and as irrepressable as you had remembered it.

The Devil Dog makes his way through the maze of streets to the amazing Four Seasons George V Hotel, on Ave. George V, and has a cocktail in the bar while the pianist plays Green Day's "Wake me up when September Ends". Then I walk up to the Champs d'Elysee and past the Arc de Triumphe back to my hotel. In a matter of hours I had retraced my steps of many years and felt like I was truly back in Paris, with the warm familiarity of being away but somehow feeling "home" again.

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