It is long understood that Paris is a city for lovers. The beautiful architecture, long winding river through the majestic buildings. Streets abuzz with second hand book sellers, crepes and vintage style posters. Impromptu bands busking in front of cafes that look like they are from movie sets, with seating designed for lovers. Seats, side by side, overlooking the passing parade. Even the language is magical in its sing song quality. Everywhere you go in the city of Paris, particularly in summer, you see couples holding hands, canoodling and generally looking, as lovers do, smitten. No longer able to claim myself as part of ‘youth’ I get a secret pleasure at seeing the delight in the faces of young love. Fresh, hopeful and not yet scarred by broken romances or the often unromantic nature of mortgages and parenthood. Here then, in this city of lovers, I find myself with child (4) and partner (bed ridden with tummy bug). How does one manage in the city of lovers without the aforesaid lover?
Well, as a parent, the love of your child can feel as powerful as a love affair. Paris was, despite my whimsical wishes that my partner was with us, still delightful. From the moment my daughters face lit up with amazement at what we called ‘lovelock bridge’ (there are actually three bridges festooned with lovers padlocks, this was the closest to us). I got to see Paris through a child’s eyes. The glittering magnificence of the lovelock bridge was indeed magical. Speckled with hopeful lovers wishing their romance would stay as it was in that moment, forever. In love, connected and surrounded by the beauty of Paris. It was through my daughters eyes that I enjoyed the Luxembourg gardens as she scampered over play equipment, different from that she plays on back home in Australia. I watched in awe as she made friendships despite speaking different languages. A look, a gesture and smile and off she would go with her little playmate. Climbing, digging, spinning and having a riotous time. Then they were the walks on the Seine, the ogling of the Louvre and the amusement I felt as she dipped her feet in the waters of the Louvre fountains. Something I would hesitate to do without the impetus of a child. The journey up the Eiffel Tower and look of wonderment as we looked from such lofty heights over the vast city of Paris. Her excitement as we ate at a restaurant where she was given a special menu declaring it the best spaghetti she had ever eaten. I watched in delight as she pored over her travel journey to pinpoint all the destinations we had travelled to. Remembering them in her own way… ‘that was where the man had a funny hat on’.
There were other magical moments too, spent alone. I ventured to the Musee D Orsay art gallery on an orgiastic eye feast without any need to consider if others were bored with what I was looking at, hungry or wanting to look at something that did not catch my interest. Then there was the gardens of Monet. Not difficult to see why he was so inspired to paint this scene. The Japanese section of the gardens managed to retain its tranquility despite the crush of visitors. I sat, overlooking Monet’s house munching on a Delicious French crab salad and reflected, that beauty can be found and held in all circumstances. It was easy to slip into sadness that my partner was ill, could not share the lovers Paris with me. The path of regret leads only to lost opportunities. To really make the situation work, even if it is ‘not what you had planned’ can produce such gold, even when you expected only some silver. It is something I hope I remember, the next time, that is inevitable, that things will not go according to plan.