For someone visiting Paris for the first time, the way the cityscape changes may be daunting. From modern skyscrapers and depots to the bay windows lining every street; the architecture is dynamic while staying true to the history and roots of the city. Stepping inside the city at noon, I saw cafes and bistros full of people, drinking, talking, and enjoying the Parisian way of life. And Parisians, they have to be the warmest people I have come across.
I was greeted with a fresh, warm breeze and instantly felt at home in a city I had never been to before. Starting my day with a quick subway, down till Pont St. Michael from Republique, I head towards St. Germain. Then a quick bite at Cafe du Flore set the mood, taking me back to the 20s, when much of St. Germain was a playground for literary and artistic geniuses like Picasso, Hemingway, Stein, and Dali. After a meal full of caffeine and sugar, the heart longs for a walk through the Luxembourg gardens, and you always listen to your heart in Paris.
“Paris is always a good idea.” -Audrey Hepburn
If Paris is always a good idea, believe me when I say this, walking around Paris is an even better one. My walk to the Luxembourg gardens was a lengthy one because I allowed myself to get lost in the different streets around Paris. Whichever street piqued my curiosity, I could be seen walking it. As I wandered around, I came upon the former Stein household at 27 Rue du fleurs, and naturally paid my respects to the genius.
Entering the lush greenery of the gardens, brimming with kids, elderly gents, and young couples alike, one can get lost in the beauty of this place. If walking aimlessly is ever a good idea, I cannot even imagine finding a better place. You grab a hot chocolate to-go at Angelina, or sit beside the fountain as you see the sun begin to dim and feel its faint warmth sooth the otherwise biting wind.
“Paris with all its old cafes, innumerable bookstores, cigarette smoke, and glittering lights, is the most beautiful city in the world.”
I soon find myself sipping cold beer at one of the many brasseries on the banks of the seine, seeing all the bouquinistes close shop, tourist wander about, and the sun shining on the gilded statues and bridges. And with little consideration for time, I left for the legendary bookstore, Shakespeare & Company. The iconic shop, namesake to the legendary open house/bookstore/library of the 20s, is the Mecca of bibliophiles around the world. One would thus not be surprised to know that the shop, the center of Paris’s intellectual and literary history, is also known as “Kilometer Zero Paris” as all roads of Paris start from there. While there, I spent hours browsing through the maze-like store, exploring the section of ‘lost generation’ dedicated to the authors who frequented the original establishment set up by Sylvia Beach in St. Germain. Coming out with three books and plenty more bookmarks, I made my way till the banks of Seine and sat among dozens of other Parisians. At this moment, I felt unified with the city, and had a sudden realisation; Paris with all its old cafes, innumerable bookstores, cigarette smoke, and glittering lights, is the most beautiful city in the world.