The Last Trip to Paris

I planned my recent trip to Paris with the wistful notion that it would be a grand farewell to my favorite city. After all, I reasoned, this trip would mark my third to Paris in four years–and my fourth trip overall if I wanted to count my college visit in 1972. “You’re getting older, Ann,” I told myself, “there are many more places you want to experience while you still can.”

river view
The Seine and the Eiffel Tower

I planned accordingly–making sure to visit the places I absolutely wanted to see one more time–La Musee D’Orsay with lunch in the 5th floor cafe, a couple of hours with Monet’s Waterlillies in L’Orangerie, a last look at Notre Dame, and lunch at L’As du Fallafel in the Marais, per my son’s recommendation. And of course, a visit to La Durree on the Champs Elysees for their fabulous macarons.

I felt excited and vaguely uneasy at the same time. As I visited each place on my itinerary, I grew more and more enamored with Paris. Would this really be my last visit? Riding the Metro home each night to my B & B near the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to freeze the hands of the clock so that I could savor Paris even longer.

And as I visited L’Orangerie and saw Monet’s fabulous Waterlilies again, I was saddened by the buzz in the room and the constant selfie-taking tourists who blocked everyone’s view of the panels.

In contrast, I simply stood in front of a panel, and focused–trying to breathe in its beauty and the rich depth of the colors. I didn’t even try to take a picture-as I had the year before. I knew the colors would be a vague shadow of the beauty before me, and I heard this line from “Postscript” by Seamus Heaney: “Useless to to think you’ll…capture it more thoroughly.”

Louvre
Winged Victory in the Louvre

And on my last day in Paris, where I simply savored every bite of food and every grand view, I knew I was foolish as well. Foolish to limit myself to any idea of not returning to Paris. And foolish to rush through my days, as I so often do. Instead, I want to pause and let the experience “catch my heart off guard and blow me open.” I’m working on it…and imagining another visit to Paris.

Postscript by Seamus Heaney~from The Spirit Level

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind 
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-gray lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of a flock of swans,
Their feathers ruffed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or crested or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open. 

5 thoughts on “The Last Trip to Paris

  1. Magali Lefevre November 25, 2019 / 10:21 pm

    What a lovely article! I enjoyed it very much and even joined you in visualization of the waterlillies à L’Orangerie💕
    I hope you are “done”with Paris…:)
    À bientôt, Magali

  2. Magali Lefevre November 25, 2019 / 10:25 pm

    I couldn’t edit my first comment as I realized I meant to say “I hope you are not “done” with Paris:)

    • amusingpoet November 25, 2019 / 11:49 pm

      Hi Maggie,

      No, I’m not done with Paris. I find it the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen and dearly love to visit France. Je reviens.

  3. Mary December 2, 2019 / 12:43 pm

    Ann,

    It is such a joy to read your reflection again.

    This time, I, too, slowed down and listened, and allowed myself to savor your savoring.

    Once again your writing had touched my heart.

    Thank you

    • amusingpoet December 2, 2019 / 2:10 pm

      Thanks, Mary. So glad you enjoyed the post and even revisited Paris with me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *