France

My Paris Story, Part 1

The recent saddening news of the terror attacks in Paris has not only jolted us into remembering the fragile state of peace in this world, it has also reignited the Paris Disease among many.

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Happy in Paris in Jan 2015, blissfully unaware of the Charlie Hebdo attack that would happen shortly after we left

After all, Paris is a place that many imprint their ideals of love and luxury living (hence the Paris Disease). And the terror attacks have been a rude shock and awakening, shattering those dreams. They remind us that Paris is not just the city of lights, but it is just as human, complicated with problems and most of all, vulnerable.

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Not just the City of Lights

And so, many are suddenly standing with Paris as one (eg. #prayforparis, online articles on personal experiences in Paris etc.). A move probably to cling on to these romanticized ideals, to keep these memories of a charming untainted city as they were.

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Mum looking radiant outside Notre-Dame

And yes, hearing the news of the terror attacks did bring back my own memories of Paris. Charmed as I was by the city, I was well aware of its ugly side – the dirty streets, the migrant street vendors and metro buskers trying so hard to make a living, the gypsies, the tension between keeping up with perfect appearances and harsh realities of life…

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Paris looking postcard-perfect

So Paris is not perfect, but it is, I find, still pretty special. You cannot ignore how proudly French the city is – the architecture, food, language, fashion, people. And every corner you turn to, you spot another French Renaissance building, smell delectable Frenchfare from a bistro or hear a conversation in French. That unique character of Paris, you just cannot ignore.

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Just the neighbourhood boulangerie with so much promise!

So as much as I have neglected this blog, the recent events did bring back an urge to document my walk through this city.

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Walking through the streets of Paris

And so here it is, the first half of my Paris story. Not just the beautified side of it, but the human side as well…

Getting into Paris

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Goodbye London!

The Eurostar got us to Paris in a speedy 2hours’ time. However, by the time we got to our accommodation and settled down, the sun had long set and it was time for dinner.

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Our cosy and clean AirBnB apartment
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The small but functional kitchen. Below the stairs was a bedroom.

Cold and hungry, we fell into the trap of a touristy restaurant, getting a less-than-satisfactory meal. Anyway, we were just glad to get back early after a quick meal and rest in our humble abode!

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The bedroom in the basement

 

Cold in Paris

The next morning, we woke up to a gloomy winter day in Paris.

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First breakfast in Paris – what else but 1.50Euro croissants?

That meant braving the cold and not having good shots…

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Arc de Triomphe against the backdrop of the grey skies
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Sigh, a little disappointed to not get the full Eiffel Tower
Making a stop at the Lourve. However, as we weren’t up for a day of art viewing after a museum overload in Italy, we decided not to go in.
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It was the bro’s idea to take this and he was all excited about it. At least he was still in good spirits!
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Dad & Mum having a rest
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Going indoors to get some warmth & spied a Laduree stall!
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We had Blueberry & Salted Caramel. Unfortunately, I found them a little dry and the flavours not as impressive as Pierre Herme.

Yea, we didn’t quite get the ideal start to enjoy Paris.

But fortunately, things got a little better as the day went on…

Warming up to Paris

After our satisfying meal at Le Baratin, our spirits not only picked up, the weather did as well.

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The family happy & full from lunch

That set the tone for a lovely walk along the Seine River, where the golden hues of the early setting winter sun made it all the more romantic.

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I was happy & full too!
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Bridge of Love Locks
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Mum spied this artwork stall and got a lovely piece for less than 20Euros. We have yet to display it at home though!
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Even in winter, having a Le Berthillon cone was the best accompaniment to our walk

We then met this old American couple who told us that the secret to enjoying Paris is to try to not to do much. I know what they meant – enjoying Paris is all about taking in the sights, sounds and food. Unfortunately, our limited time there didn’t permit us that luxury!

We chatted, joked and they took our picture. It turned out to be the best family picture of our trip.

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Capturing that perfect moment in Paris

As the sun finally set, we reluctantly bade farewell to the Seine River and sought refuge indoors at Galerie Lafayette.

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Feeling the last rays of the winter sun before running indoors

As what happened to me in Nice, we didn’t get any apparel at Galerie Lafayette. Instead, guess what I made a beeline for?

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Yes, the 1 & only Pierre Herme!
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Complimentary chocolates

Once we entered the shop, we were greeted by complimentary chocolates and the stall assistance patiently explained to us the different flavours. Just like I was at the Nice outlet, my bro was really impressed with the service!

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Too many interesting flavours to choose from!

With the array available, it was tough deciding but we finally left with 2 macarons and went back to retire for the night.

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Ending the day with a homecooked meal by Mum in the warmth of our apartment

Mum was embarrassed that I took this picture. But I thought it was still document-worthy, to remember how we spent our holiday in simple but fulfilling ways too!

And that is my first half of my Paris story, a story of my own memories of this city, with all its flaws and beauty.

Till I have the time to write the 2nd half, thanks for sticking around and au revior!

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