“Une croissant, s’il vous plait?” (One croissant, please?”) I watched as she placed a fluffy croissant with chocolate ganache oozing out of it on a silver plate, which she pushed towards me as she spoke in that language I love so much, “c’est un euro vingt.”(that is 1 euro and 20 cents). I slid 1 Euro and 20 cents across the counter, picked up my croissant and waved a good bye as she smiled with a cheerful “Merci.”(Thank you).
France. Sigh. How much I miss those cobbled streets, with their beautiful architecture. The scent of fashion, food, excitement, sensuality and pure fun hits your nose as you walk those streets, taking in the beauty embedded in everything around you. The country where there is something for everyone, the place where I understood the meaning of the phrase, “the love for life”, where everything around you makes you want to just live.
It had always been my dream to go to France. Ever since I started learning French in the 6th grade, all I could think about was going to that country and experiencing the country in all its glory. And I made it happen in 2012, when I went there for a month during the summer, alone. I was ecstatic. I lived with a French family, cooked French food, visited the various parts of France and lived my month to the fullest. The place had so much to offer. I knew I would make the most of it.
I lived in this dreamy town called Plaisir, on the outskirts of Paris, in the countryside with a French family. The most mystical part about Plaisir was the castle it had right infront of a tiny lake that has been there since the days of King Louis 14th. With the lush greenery surrounding every inch of the castle, every little nook and cranny made my cheeks blush as I felt the scent of the fresh air around me as I watched old couples sharing their unique love, walking together, people riding horses, enjoying the moment of tranquility around them. Now, contrary to popular belief, the French are fun, warm and very welcoming people. I have no qualms in saying I didn’t miss home in the least! Everyday, I would travel by the SNCF to Montparnasse station in Paris, where I would take a random bus to discover the various parts of the capital city. I felt like Alice and I swear I had found my Wonderland. I saw everything; from the streets of Madelaine to the Eiffel Tower; the Arc de Triomphe to the National Assembly; the Louvre museum to the Moulin Rouge; even the Ritz; every single moment was so magical and special, it en-captured my heart completely.
Paris by night. Just wow. Words cannot express the authenticity which the city vibrates right down to its very core. Every night at 11.45, the Eiffel Tower lights up, in the most magnificent manner, and exactly from 12am to 12:05am, it twinkles, keeping you bedazzled for those entire 5 minutes. You cannot take your eyes off for even a nano second; I couldn’t, at all. I stood on the banks of the Seine, watching the twinkling fairly lights emanated from the wonder, dancing around on the tiny waves playing around in the water. I had tears in my eyes, and a catch in my throat as I realised, that yes, I was finally here, where I knew I belonged. The following day, I woke up to the aroma of fresh crepes with ham and cheese, feeling the love in the air. That’s the magic of this place, you can feel the love everywhere. I got ready, and already mesmerised with the sight of a lit up Paris from one of the highest points in Paris, I took the boat tour ride around the city, which again, needless to say, were one of the best 10 Euros I had spent there. Those 50 minutes will keep your eyes glued to all the exceptional works of art around you, as you get confused what to look at first. I felt my heart skip a beat again, as I aw the top of the Eiffel Tower slowly peeping out and as I went closer, it stood there in all its glory. I got off at Le Louvre museum, where we all know, lies the Mona Lisa. But the glass structure right in the middle, which I’m sure we all read about or saw in “The Da Vinci Code” fascinated me the most. It’s an incredible work of art which I kept staring at the entire time. From there I walked through the Parisian streets towards The Notre Dame cathedral. It’s gothic architecture can keep you mesmerized as you watch the fine details with which every part of the sculptures and statues have been carved out. I swear, I almost got a crick in my neck as my eyes went zooming all over.
Now France has a lot more to offer apart from Paris and its mysteries. I went to Versailles, where of course you’ll find the famous and beautiful Chateau de Versailles built by King Louis the 14th. The architecture, the paintings, everything has such a beautiful history behind it that all you want is to know more and more about the place as you dwell deeper and deeper into the grounds of the humongous palace. You feel like you’re standing at the gateway to heaven when you see those giant beautiful golden gates, waiting to engulf you into their story, the aura you feel surrounding you as soon as you step inside, you can almost sense those rustic days of King Louis 15th and Mary Antoinette.
Before ending my dream reality, I also visited Normandy, located north west of France, where I spent the entire day at the beach, walking on the white gold sand, feeling the cold water lapping at my feet, as I stooped down to pick up some unusual yet beautiful shells. As the day crept towards an end, I stopped over at a town called Honfleur, which takes you back to the days of old Paris. A town full of friendly people, as they sit sipping their wine, devouring pancakes next to the river, reminiscing their old times and making new memories at the same time. It was that weekend getaway sort of place where I could feel the past merging with the present and I was somehow involved in it entirely as I made new acquaintances over wine and cheese. It was like a dream in a dream, an inception of reality as I made my way easily, merging well with the prettiness around me.
I can go on and on about the marvels this country holds for me, but I must tell you about the best part about France. The food and the wine. Every palate from the duck to rabbit to pork to cheese to fondue to desserts to macaroons, every single dish tingles your taste buds in such a way that even if your stomach says no, your heart will always say yes. It’s an art, their food. The way they are able to pair the food with the perfect wine, giving you that tantalizing feeling of actually tasting perfection, made me spend most of my time, at the street cafes, trying something new each time, listening to the musicians playing on the streets, watching the city come alive with each step it took, breathing new life into everything around them.
Leaving the city of my dreams, Paris, I knew I had left my heart there. Till today, nothing has left me as speechless and spellbound as the city of lights. Each note the city strums, harmoniously comes together emulating the love within me, syncing it with a similar feeling in the hearts of all others around me, making us all come together in this realm of pure sensual romantic love.
It’s true, what they say; it’s the city of romance. Anyone will fall in love with this heaven. I miss it, and I’ll definitely go back. One day, some day; but I will.