We went to Paris to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. On our anniversary day I was away on a beautiful estate in the English countryside, near Basingstoke, for work. I worked 70 hours that week culminating in a tear filled meeting with HR and my manager the day before we left for Paris. I felt confused by the outcome and struggled to process everything that had happened in the days leading up to the trip.
On Thursday morning we leisurely made our way to St. Pancras station for our first journey by Eurostar. Poor Jonathan spent the majority of our time in the boarding lounge and on the train journey fielding my questions, doubts, and fears about the situation I was leaving behind. We arrived at Gare du Nord and made our way to our hotel on the RER.
The next morning, as we walked from the hotel to the RER, I realised that I arrived in such a stupor that I didn’t remember a single road or building from our walk to the hotel the night before.
We started the cool, sunny autumn day wandering through Luxembourg Gardens and examining the faces of the statues that lined the paths. We stopped for a crepe on our way to Notre Dame.
We continued on past The Louvre, through the Tuileries Garden and stopped at the Place de la Concorde. Jonathan stood amazed at the immensity of the Parisian square and surrounding architecture. I continued to mull over recent events.
We walked along the Champs-Élysées and up to the Arc de Triomphe. One wrong turn led us up the stairs directly beneath the arch. By then it was dark and we were hungry so we hopped on the Metro back to the Latin Quarter and found a Vietnamese restaurant in which to share our anniversary supper. As in London, space is at a premium in Paris and we shared our table with two other women who ordered delicious looking soups and were gone before we had finished our vermicelli noodle soups.
We took the bus back to our hotel and walked a number of blocks through streets that I certainly would not have felt safe walking through alone.
Saturday was dark and rainy and reflective of my mood. We arrived at the Eiffel Tower to find that the top deck was closed due to the wind and the rain and decided to enjoy the hazy view of Paris from the second deck.
We descended into the rain and crossed the Seine to the Palais de Chaillot & Trocadéro Gardens. Wet, cold, tired, and still mulling over my experience at work we decided to head back to the hotel rather than venture to Montmartre which was sure to devolve into an embarrassing public shouting match. We took the Metro toward our hotel and got off at our nearest station to find a woman lying on the platform, surrounded by paramedics, with a large pool of thick blood near her leg. The only way to get to the exit was the foot wide space between the train, the paramedics, the woman, and the blood.
We arrived at the hotel and went to the Monoprix in the mall across the street where a lovely 8 Euro bottle of wine, fresh baguette, cheese, Italian deli meet, chocolate, and mint biscuits ensured a quiet, warm, and peaceful evening in our little hotel room.
The next morning we checked out, made our way to Gare Du Nord, checked in for our journey, bought a massive chocolate bar and a gift for friends and travelled under water in a tunnel that had only England on the other side.