“Everyone should see Paris at Christmas time at least once a lifetime.” said Steve. Jay replied, “Sounds good to me”. That was the way it began.
I booked an Airbnb in the Marais for four nights; we bought easyJet round trip tickets to Paris-Charles de Gaulle; we packed what few clothes we had for cold weather into small bags – headed for Paris at Christmas time. The weather forecast was bleak – rain, with highs in the 40’s and 50’s. Steve and I tried to find warm clothes in the closet. Southern California and warm clothes don’t go together in the same sentence. We tried to consolidate since easyJet charges for all bags over the size of a shoe box. (Note to self: the French travel light.) Our flight to Paris was booked for 9:05 a.m. out of Nice on the 23rd, returning Sunday, the 27th at 2:00 p.m. The taxi was picking us up at 6:30 a.m. (Note to self: ignore instruction to get to airport two hours early. Too much time. But, they really do close gate thirty minutes before flight time. Be careful.) Four nights in Paris with three full days to play. Both of us were excited. It was our turn to go – my first, his second.
Everything went well, couldn’t have been better. Our room in the Marais turned out to be the entire condo. The owners, apologizing profusely because they had to be away for Christmas, left us alone. Great. Privacy and Paris – what a concept. We walked everywhere. And, if we got tired, we stopped at one of the 10,000 cafes and hung out until rested enough to continue.
The day we arrived, the 23rd, we ventured out for a delicious Italian meal in a delightful restaurant that came highly recommended by our hosts (Note to self: the good restaurants really do close at 2:00 p.m. but will serve you if you arrive at 1:59 p.m. and you can stay as long as you want – up to a point.) Then, checked out the neighborhood and returned to the condo to figure things out, like how to open the front door, turn on the lights, flush the toilet, run the shower, and rest up for the next day. (Note to self: save time to figure out basics.)
For the next three days, we walked and walked and walked. Taxis, trains, and buses were everywhere, but we wanted to walk. That first day, the 24th and Christmas Eve, we headed for Galleries Lafayette, then planned to explore until dark.
At that point, we wanted to be at the Arch de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees to see the Christmas lights and have dinner somewhere. En route, we ventured into a huge Christmas market on the Champs-Elysees, explored everything that interested us, and took photos of everything. (Note to self: buy portable phone charger with connector for purse).
By the time we made it to the Arch de Triomphe, we were exhausted. We found a restaurant for dinner, got a table by the window, saw the Christmas lights come on while dining, and headed for home. Called Uber to pick us up. A perfect day. Exhausted and exhilarated.
The next day was Christmas. We decided to walk in a different direction – toward Notre Dame. Security was everywhere. Gendarmes with guns patrolling the streets. We couldn’t get close to Notre Dame. Barricades, ropes, crowds of people, police controlling long lines waiting to get in to the Cathedral. It looked like a terrorist-magnet to me. I had to convince Steve to walk in another direction because Mr. Curiosity wanted to check it all out – considering whether to get in that long line or not.
As it turned out, we crossed the bridge – there at the Seine, locked our lives together forever, and threw away the key. We were so happy. I don’t remember where we ate. Every place we went was wonderful, unique, and unplanned. Wandering and deciding on the fly.
Saturday after Christmas, we took it a little easier. Both of us were tired. I cannot remember what we did, but whatever it was, we had fun. And, wherever we went, we walked. The only rides we took were the taxis to and from the airport and that Uber ride home. I would give out before Steve. He was Mr. Energy himself. No snags, no problems. And, the accommodations were perfect. We vowed to return.
The pictures here are a few of the shots we took on the fly. Everything was happenstance. We both liked it that way. Wandering through Paris at Christmas time with our lives locked forever because Steve threw away the key.
It is hard to believe he is gone. I have never cried this much – ever. At some point, I will get a grip. In the meantime, I cry – wherever and whenever. There are “up” times, don’t get me wrong, but ups-and-downs make me dizzy. As far as it being Christmas, …well, the songs get me a little teary. Easy to do – I’m teary, anyway. Truth be known, we were never big Christmas revellers, just quietly did our own thing. We sometimes celebrated with family and/or friends, but, if nothing panned out, we were fine.
Now, everything is different. I have often pondered the concept of “change”, watching family and friends resolve to adjust some life pattern or other without success. Often, I would say, “You can’t change without doing something else.” Easy to say. Not easy to do. In this case, life has forced a change – like it or not. I don’t like it. I will embrace it anyway. It is the one constant that I can count on.