Saturday, 30 May 2015

Brave little legs

In the turmoil of our busy lives we had three days of respite in Paris. It was the middle of the May holidays, M and I were tired and the children rearing to go. We took the Thalys from Rotterdam, marveling the fact that it takes a mere three-and-a-half hours to get from our front door to Paris. (When we came back on cloud nine, we discussed the possibility of going there every weekend, but that, of course, would be financial suicide).
It is not difficult to be swept away by the magic of Paris. The beautiful buildings, cafes and restaurants, the buzz on the streets. We had no intention of visiting museums and the like, our plan was simply to soak up the atmosphere. And soak it up we did. On the first day a two-and-a-half hour boat trip on the Canal St. Martin where I took the following photos in an attempt to capture the beauty of Parisian street life.

Parisian gentleman relaxing on balcony
One of the many attractive appartment building to be found throughout the city

A colourful chaos

Locals look on from the bridge

Airing the bed linen

Another attaractive appartement building (I love bright colours)

I have a weakness for this kind of scene: a cosy cafe in an old building with a blue door

If you look closely, you will see the market stalls on the banks of the river

The rest of our trip was spent taking the metro from one part of the city to the other, hanging out in parks and playgrounds, visiting tourist attractions such as the Eiffel tower (the sight of which had the children squealing with delight) and talking to local folks, who were very open and friendly. In talking to a woman (my age, young children, good job, resident of Montmartre) an interesting thing occurred to me: we always seem to covet the things we don't have. I was expressing to her how wonderful I thought it would be to live in an apartment in the middle of Montmartre, to be part of the buzz so to speak. 'Mmm,' she said, and began listing the things they were severely lacking: parks, playgrounds and space for children, despite the fact that her neighbourhood is predominantly populated by young families. She also told me that, in spite of their good jobs, she and her husband could not afford to buy a property there. And that owning a house with a garden was completely out of the question: the mere thought of it made her laugh. In short: she was lacking the things we have in abundance.  How interesting.

(There was another thing she was lacking, but I didn't want to point that out to her: good cappuccino. I've been told Dutch folks are spoilt on the cappuccino front - provided you drink them in real coffee houses, not the touristy ones -  but I didn't realise this was literally true. The cups we drank in Paris were pretty shocking, if only for their price: 6 euros!).

May I just take a moment to mention how incredibly well the children did: all that walking and not one word of complaint. Just enthusiasm and in-the-moment fun. Though I must admit daughter N said at the end of the second day: "My legs are so sore from all that walking: aren't they just brave little legs!" Yes, I said, giving her a cuddle: They sure are brave little legs.