Madame, Merci, no Madame, sorry Madame, no English Madame …
ha! Paris greets you with zest! It does not rush you, neither asks to hurry but there is no dullness nor lethargy.
The city, people ooze friendliness and willingness with gusto. We landed in Paris at 10:30 a.m. The ‘forget-me-not’ blue sky, pleasant breeze and a talkative taxi driver… our self-planned vacation could not have a better beginning.
Munching the candies offered by the taxi driver we started a very interesting conversation. Taxi driver with little knowledge of English and we with no knowledge of French. I just experienced the universally known fact – ‘You can always communicate with other human being. Language is no barrier ‘
By the time we reached Hotel our gathered knowledge was:
• If you want to see ‘Real Paris’ then you should travel only by train. ‘Metro Madame… Real Paris Madame’, Metro Madame…
• You should be very careful with the handbag – ‘Madame, bag! look bag madame, look it’
So, we decided to explore Paris in Metro. The Paris special enthusiastic feeling was infectious, we freshened ourselves and were ready to be on the road in no time. Hotel receptionist heartily approved our plan to catch a Metro for Eiffel. Very promptly she opened the Metro Train Map, spread it on the table and started explaining the directions. Wonderful! Though we did not get the complete route, we certainly gathered how to reach nearest Porte de la Chapelle Metro Station
We approached the station-master for advice on how to reach Eiffel Tower and to our great surprise he came out from the ticket window. We were wondering now what this fellow is doing, he took us to the Ticket Vending Machine and explained very patiently directions, marked the stations to get down, where to change the platform and how to reach another station using the day-pass. This day-pass is so convenient as its also used for Bus travel. The Bus Stops and Metro Stations are synchronized. It made our Paris exploration so comfortable. The station-master explained this quiet neatly, we were really impressed. French just love these friendly acts and again language hardly mattered. It was all Merci, Merci… welcome… enjoy…. With the day-pass in hand we just went on Metro spree.
In the train our fellow travelers in the coach were combination of localites, tourists like us and refugees. It was a talkative bunch, though we could not understand a word it was fun watching them and guessing from which part of world they belong and what could be the topic of conversation. On ‘Poissonnaire’ station a tattooed guy entered in our coach and started singing and playing music. It was melodious and very lively music. Enjoying thoroughly, we got down on the next station to catch the train from another platform. As we were ascending the stairs heard the tune ‘ जीना यहाँ, मरना यहाँ, इसके सिवा जाना कहाँ’ and saw the singer playing his Accordian. It was an instant feeling of connect, ‘World is so small and art has no boundary’.
Very slowly, subtly Paris engulfs you. One starts expecting what next? We were no exceptions and we were not disappointed also.
Paris as a city is in peace with itself. The pretty Pastry shops were lined up on both sides of the lanes. Tourists were seen enjoying drinks and snacks sitting outside. Aroma of baked products wafted from shops. Buildings with Paris-stone facades and windows adorned with bright flowers. Beautiful, just beautiful! We took the U turn and oh WOW! We have reached Trocadero Square. The magnificent Eiffel Tower was standing tall on the backdrop of blue sky. The first view of this symbol of French Ingenuity was spectacular. It’s a sight with which I fell in love. The air here oozed charm and romance and one can not help but loose in the surrounding.
From the square the road leads to tower in perfect symmetry with statues, fountains and gorgeous gardens adorning alongside. So many different perspectives of Eiffel Tower and all were fabulous. Taking all this, we reached the entry point.
From the entry point the tower looked even more Majestic. It’s like we think Yes! this is most beautiful spot and then exploring further one finds even better and the quest goes on.
After almost an hour and passing all the security checks we entered the Tower. Once inside we were to follow our heart to take the tour. As we climbed the floors, could see the city unfolding. From the second floor we had the clear view of monuments in Paris; Louvre, Grand Palais, blends of Seine River, iconic arches on it and the boat rides taking place.
The 276m ascend in the glass-walled lift was quite exciting. Lift stopped at the ‘open-to-sky-deck.’ The view of the famous Parisian urban landscape with its iconic structures was awesome. The seine river, arches on it… glorious. The city noise ceased, and the cold wind started buzzing in ears. I felt my heart racing and many emotions stirring inside. This Icon of Love had witnessed thousands of promises of undying love. Standing on the top perceiving the beautiful city below I understood the emotion, It’s cherishing, cherishing the love of life.
Slowly drinking the sight we descended the tower. It was late and could see the first sparkling lights on the tower. Roaming in the square we found a nice food stall on the bank of Seine rive, serving hot ‘crepe and panini’. We took our seats and settled down. Sitting there, savoring ‘panini’ and ‘Hot Chocolate’ I could not but wonder that this Icon of Passion in a City dedicated to Art is also an amazing piece of engineering. Standing erect for more than a century its an icon of human excellence and vision.