There’s no denying the magic of Paris. What is it that makes it such a romantic place? It’s not even that you have to have someone to enjoy the romance with – it’s more that you develop a romance with the city itself.
The City of Light has artistry woven throughout its history. Its history has heroes and revolutionaries woven into its story. Practically every street corner holds a famous story – or three! The architecture reflects the gentle colors of light that bounce off the streets and water. Everywhere you turn, the scent of something fresh baking or cooking hits your nose. Aesthetics are valued and the level of fashion and beauty is unparalleled. And of course your ears are delighted to hear the lovely French language spoken and murmured constantly. It’s a full sensory experience exploding with beauty and encompassing time!
Since there are so many lovely things to see and do and eat in Paris, how could you possibly narrow down the best way to spend your precious time? The unfortunate thing about living in or visiting the city is that with every decision you make, you’re turning down 578 more! As you walk to dinner, you pass restaurant after restaurant and think, “I want to go there!!” On your way to the museum, there are six little parks you could be resting in. The opportunity cost is real.
Though no choice in Paris is a wrong one, Whit and I found over and over again there was one unmatched way to spend our evenings. It was cheap, it took advantage of the best parts of the city, and it was right on the outskirts of our neighborhood.
When the weather was nice (re: pretty much any day between April and September), we would grab a bottle of wine (preferably rose, though red and white will satisfy just as well) and walk down our street until we hit the Seine.
The perfect time to leave our apartment was just as the light was stretching and starting to fade. Often we had been distracted by umpteen other things (you know, regular life), but as the day was coming to a close, we would inevitably remember how much we wanted to seize the day and enjoy our time in the city and with each other. Fortunately the sun sets for what seems like an hour or two in the summer, and not until 9, 10, or 11pm, so even quite late in the evening we would still have plenty of day left for seizing.
Au bord de la Seine (once we reached the river bank), we would scope out the light, the bridges, the crowds, and find the best view of the Eiffel Tower with the golden sun going to sleep behind it, preferably with a place to rest our backs.
The fiery sun slowly fading away would enrapture us as it lit the whole sky – 19th century buildings and monuments, prestigious bridges, roller skaters and groups of friends, floating swans and swimming ducks – with warmth and light.
The wine wasn’t necessary, of course, but something lovely to drink and spark conversation wasn’t bad to add to the mix.
Next, twilight would settle in and the light would shift from powerful and all-encompassing to soft glimmers of streetlight glittering across the river. The lights now dim could be a signal to a leave, or they might bring out those deeper thoughts you find yourself confessing when the lights grow low.
Observing this effect on the couples and groups of friends lingering nearby helped continue the mood.
The highlight of the evening was watching the phases of light on the Eiffel Tower shift from magnificent and shining during the daylight, to soft and quiet in the setting sun, to brightly lit against the dusk sky, to suddenly and thrillingly throwing herself into a panic of sparkling lights, drawing all attention to herself for a full five minutes for the first twinkle of night.
Finally, the evening slowing, we’d gather up our things, dreamily gaze at the reflections and colors in the ripples of the water one more minute (or ten), and walk contentedly up the stairs, filled with gratitude for the greatest simple pleasures of life.