Paris: A City of Love and Architecture

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One may arrive in Paris feeling a mixture of emotions, but it is impossible to leave unhappy.  Even the name evokes images of freshly baked croissants, luxurious red wine and unspeakably chic boulevards. For Imogen and I, Paris was entwined in our own separate memories, creating even more reason to visit together.  Despite the trip being completely spontaneous, it was certainly worth the rush.

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We arrived in Paris on a Friday night after I had finished work. Having been reprimanded by a severe pinched-nosed French stewardess during the flight for painting my nails scarlet, we touched down in the exquisitely brutalist Charles de Gaulle airport.  The concrete ceilinged baggage hall was the perfect setting for our arrival: the room had a calm ambience only comparable to the Tokyo Park Hyatt Hotel in “Lost in Translation”.

After taking the RER B train to Gard du Nord, and a further metro ride following that, we reached our cosy Airbnb apartment on Avenue de Wagram.  Although rather tiny, and only reachable from a dusty service staircase in an otherwise opulent building, the chic little apartment served as the ideal resting place throughout our weekend away.

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Good Morning! The first item on our agenda was the Arc de Triomphe, a monument to those who fought and died in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. From there we continued with ever increasing vigour towards the Eiffel Tower, feeling absolutely famished having not eaten since before the flight the night before. Inspired by countless Instagram fashion bloggers, and Imogen’s oh-so-British tendency to avoid using French language at any cost, we purchased some macarons and pastries from a Parisian patisserie and sat on the grass with the other tourists to eat them.

After strolling through the stunning Jardin du Luxembourg, the afternoon was spent perusing the Louvre museum, accessible through the timeless glass pyramid designed by the Chinese-American Architect I.M. Pei.  The once-controversial pyramid-theme continues below ground, with a particularly impressive inverted pyramid protruding through the ceiling. Sadly we spent too much time examining ancient Egyptian artefacts so closing time approached before we managed to catch sight of the Mona Lisa.

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Having finally figured out that we could reach the Palace of Versailles by taking the double-decker RER C train to Versailles-Château – Rive Gauche station, we quickly realised that almost every other tourist in Paris had the exact same idea.  Visitors should note that tickets for the palace need to be bought from a separate ticket office prior to joining the frighteningly long queue. Fortunately, the serpentine line moves relatively fast, and after no more than forty minutes we had entered the building.

The now World Heritage Site developed throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the luxurious residence of generations of French royalty.  As a consequence the rooms are unimaginably lavish; our favourite being the extravagant Hall of Mirrors, a room filled with chandeliers, and mirrors which were a particularly expensive item at the time of construction.

We concluded our afternoon at the palace by taking a rowing boat out onto the lake.  This was the cause of much amusement amongst the men resting along the banks, as they watched me paddle my charming boyfriend around the pool.  Naturally, Evgenii eventually took his turn, reclaiming his pride and dignity.

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