It was not my first time in the City of Light. I had been to Paris several times before. During each pilgrimage, I had paid homage to the gods of art at the Louvre, the d’Orsay, and Carnavalet. I had contemplated life while sitting in the cafés. I had given thanks for my many blessings at Sacre Couer and Notre Dame. I did the same things this time. I took my ritual batobus trip down the Seine, stood in line with the masses to view the Mona Lisa, and listened to the soulful strains of a jazz tune while sipping a hot chocolate in a cozy café.
Logically, I know that I am no different from the millions of other devout Francophiles who visit Paris on an annual basis. Emotionally, though, I feel I am quite different. Deep down, I know I love Paris more than everyone else. I alone appreciate her unique beauty and history. I alone am rewarded with wonderful, serendipitous moments. Like the time I was invited to tour rooms that are normally closed at the Chateau Fontainbleau. Another visit, the weather, which had been miserably, unseasonably cold for weeks, suddenly cleared up on the day of my arrival, then turned foul again on the day of my departure.
Some might see these unexpected pleasures as mere coincidences, but I believe they are my rewards for being truly faithful to Mademoiselle Paris.
This visit the reward was subtle.
On our second morning in Paris, my children and I were walking along the Seine near the Il de Cité on our way to the Louvre. The sky was flat and gray, the clouds thick. The scent of snow was heavy in the air. The bitter, dreary weather had definitely dampened our spirits. We stood for awhile, staring at the Cathedral Notre Dame, shuddering at the gargoyles, marveling at the dizzying height of the spires, listening to the sounds of the city as she stretched and yawned awake. As we stood there, the clouds parted, giving birth to the most glorious sunrise. The city was bathed in the most fabulous pink light (Incidentally, pink is my favorite color) and our spirits were lifted.
Later that day, we found ourselves back at the plaza in front of Notre Dame. This time, there was an old man with a bag of bread crumbs, feeding the pigeons that make their home in the cathedral’s many nooks and crannies. My daughter, a lover of all furry and feathered creatures, was delighted to feed the birds and let them perch upon her shoulders, hands, and head. I delighted in the photographs I was able to take that day, tangible reminders of another fabulous visit to the city I adore, the city that adores me.