Leave work early on a Friday afternoon, board a train with a tall, dark, handsome not-so-stranger, complete the G2 crossword, read for awhile, make a few plans, and before you know it you look up and you are pulling into the Gare du Nord. Oh the joys of Eurostar.
Paris. Winds that whipped icy cold. Bright sunlight on water and bare branches. Constantly retreating indoors for chocolat chaud, vin chaud, anything to thaw our hands and warm our insides. Vintage clothes shops full to bursting with glitzy dresses, crocodile skin bags and strappy shoes for dainty feet. Sour citron presses and grilled goats cheese salad for lunch. A lazy breakfast wrapped in coats on a pretty balcony overlooking a quiet courtyard that would have been perfection on a warm morning in June. Pyramids of oranges, baskets of endive. Delectable cakes and pastries, regal looking in glass-fronted patisseries. Brusque waiters and tiny dogs. A butter yellow Citron parked near the river. Shutters and grey stone. Cobbles and art nouveau metro signs. Chickens in the rotisserie, thyme scented. Aperitifs before dinner with little bowls of salty nuts. Saxophonists on the metro, accordion players too. Breathtaking displays in all the florists, tulips and hyacinths but out of season flowers too - boughs of scented lilacs, imported roses in vivid hues. Greeting the taxidermy animals at Deyrolle, discovered via Wee Birdy, deciding, with regret, not to purchase a 300, 000 Euro stuffed polar bear to prowl my living room. Coo-ing at the Merci-Liberty collaboration, the exquisite prints, the beautiful displays. Sunset over leaded rooftops, seen from our hotel room window. Standing on a bridge, wind whipping our hair, fingers frozen, just to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, proud and upright in the distance. The chirping, tweeting, screeching at Sunday morning's bird market, the bright plumage of those on sale a sharp contrast to the smug pigeons sitting on the stall rooftops who may have looked drab compared to such finery, but at least were free. Huge goldfish swimming tight circuits in plastic tubs, guinea pigs with bright eyes nestled in the corners of straw-filled cages. Walking and walking, despite the cold, soaking it all in. Pushing through crowds in the grounds of an old chateau trying to spot our friends among the thousands of runners at the end of the Paris half marathon. Sticky toffee apples and sugar-dusted churros at the finish line. Hot chocolate served in bowls for breakfast, with thick wedges of fluffy brioche and sweet, runny jam. Ornate carousels on street corners. Clear skies and a sage green river.
Ah, Paris, we romanticise you, but you always give us reason to.
All photos by me, except me sipping a bowl of hot chocolate, Anna and I walking in the Jardin des Tuileries, the Liberty print car with flower outside Merci and the Eiffel Tower, which were taken by M.