Ruth Yunker is a writer and humorist, blogger and essayist, who has lived all over, but now calls Newport Beach, CA home. She fell in love with Paris later than most, but has made up for it by spending six weeks there almost every year since. Her two books, Me, Myself and Paris and Paris, I've Grown Accustomed to Your Ways, chronicle her adventures as an American woman, free and unfettered, her sense of humor and bonhomie alive and well, in the most beautiful and temperamental city in the world.
It's true, our first date wasn't gold. I was a puberty-stricken California girl living in dreary Brussels. So Paris, when I visited you and your cold, wet cobblestones, you failed to charm--
of course you didn't care. You knew who you were.
But when we met years later, me on a six-week sabbatical, hoping my Belgian-accented French would see me through, it was the glorious month of October. This time you sparkled, and I did the right thing. I fell completely in love.
I come to visit almost every year now. Always for six amazing weeks. I stay in a different apartment each time. So, as half-resident, half-visitor, I am getting to know you, really getting to know you.
Paris, you are so multi-faceted that everyone who spends time with you has their own secret favorites. With mine, I don't know where to begin, but here is a smattering.
I love to go to the Eiffel Tower. It is a fabulous icon, in any language. But my real reason for walking over there is to stroll through the beautiful Parc du Champ de Mars at 7:30 am, my breath blowing out in front of me, the rising sun glinting off the Eiffel Tower. I go to the corner closest to L'École Militaire. And there is a dog park. Yes. A Parisian dog park, where the Parisian dogs tear around, happiness exuding from every hysterically wagging tail, the Eiffel Tower herself looming, the ultimate duenna, the mother of them all.
I don't like museums in general, but in Paris, I'm hooked. Not on the big ones. It's the small ones I love. Not only are they an oddball lot, they are often hidden, and part of the magic is the hunt to find them. I've seen more of the unseen Paris finding these gems.
The Musée de Poupeé over in the outer corner of the Marais is a journey to fantasy land. The Musée Baccarat over on Place des États Unis is a tiny jewel. The Musée Nissim de Camondo is a delicious treasure if you are a fan of the Edwardian times, and is right on the Parc Monceau, another ode to Edwardian times.
Paris, I love your metros. They fascinate me. I have learned to listen to the musicians playing in these subterranean spaces. They have to audition for their spots, you know. There is a musician who plays the Ave Maria underground at the Chatelet, for instance. Another plays Fats Waller.
I go to the medieval chapel called St. Julian de Pauvre in the Latin Quarter for their intimate concerts, listening to jazz and Chopin, sitting amidst carved stone, the candle light wavering sleepily.
I buy my tea at one of your Mariage Fréres, les Maisons de Thé. These venerable stores have been in existence since 1851. Inside, I'm waited on by young men in waistcoats and ties. I don't know how they keep a straight face as they practically whisper to you, but they do, and I do too, because one keeps a straight face in Paris, n'est pas, ma Paris? Attention to etiquette is de rigeur.
I buy my macarons at the tiniest Pierre Hermé in Paris, on rue Bonaparte. These are too good to ever make it back to the apartment. So I slide right over to the Luxembourg Gardens where I sit, eat, and watch elderly ladies, dressed to the teeth, following the tennis or the chess players.
I shop for fabric in Montmartre. I buy all my gifts at the glass-walled gift store in the Petit Palais.
I love to grab a nutella crepe in the Jardin du Palais Royal and eat it sitting under what I hope was Colette's window.
Your charms are both obvious and well-documented. And they are hidden, chanced upon while doing something else. The more I know you, the more the lovely charm of meandering through your beautiful streets, simply alert to what is around the next corner, fulfills all my dreams.