This week, I am back in Paris, a city that I like to think of as a second home, as I have been coming here regularly since my collegiate days.
I first came to Paris over thirty years ago and then starting in the ’90s, I spent at least a week or so in the city every summer. The aughts saw fewer trips to my favorite city, perhaps every other year, but the visits were regular enough to provide a “fix” of Parisien life that would hold me over until the next.
This last decade, though, the visits became even scarcer for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was this blog. As I started to travel to more wine regions, by necessity my trips here to the city bisected by the Seine. The fact that I had two growing boys and a move down to Texas also played roles in limiting my time in France in general and Paris in particular.
For almost every visit to Paris, my “home” in the city was le Quartier Montorgueil, in the 2nd Arrondissement, on the Right Bank, roughly equidistant between the Louvre and Beaubourg. It’s a beautiful part of Paris, one that, until recently, was were Parisiens lived–it was away from the glitz and glamor of the Ile-de-la-cité and other landmarks–a healthy walk from any souvenir shop or building that required a ticket or a handful of Euros to enter.
Like most neighborhoods in the city, there is no need to venture outside on Montorgueil for every need or want can be sated with a five (or maybe ten) minute walk: boulanger, boucher, pâtissier, marché, marchand à vins, and countless quaint restaurants and street-food vendors. I call it home since it is also home to the main office for the European bike tour company for which I have worked on and off for nearly the last thirty years, and where I would stay in between trips to the various bike trips I led in the country.
Even though my time in Paris has decreased, my affinity for “my” neighborhood in particular and the French capital, in general, has not waned.
Thus, like many, when I saw the heartbreaking footage last month of Notre Dame Cathédral on fire, I felt the need to return. There was no way for me to help, of course, and the pain I felt was but a fraction of what most of the year-round residents experienced. Still, I needed to return, to pass by the cathedral that is but a 15-minute walk from “my” neighborhood.
This week I am in Paris again, as a time to see some friends, taste through some champagne, and pass by Notre Dame, if only to pay my respects in an odd way.
Here are a few of the photos I took these past couple of days, something that was actually difficult since I normally don’t think to take photos while I am in Paris, since, even though I am far from a native, I like to also think that I am almost as far from a tourist.