Paris really is beautiful, especially if you look up. It is no surprise it is called 'The City of Light'. London has its exquisitely beautiful moments, but for consistent super-model status, it has to be Paris. If it were a Miss World contest Paris would be sporting the crown and weeping into a winner's sash and London would be putting on a brave face as the first maid. The bridesmaid not the bride. Look up in Paris and you can wonder at gargoyles and Gothic figurines or stone masks and sundials and urns or stunning arches and carvings. If the historical architecture does not turn you on they you can simply marvel (jealously in my case) at the ornate balconies and lush roof terraces, some sporting greenery of rain forest proportions.
During my first few months in Paris I walked around, mouth open like a love-struck imbecile at the breathtaking beauty of the place. I was like a child who had been locked into Hamley's Toy Shop for the night; so wide-eyed with awe and so spoiled for choice of amusements and diversions, I did not know what to do or where to stop. Every corner I turned seemed to reveal another gem: a lion's head gurgling water from a wall; an ornate statue; a discreet carved niche; an elegant railing...
As with a love affair, Paris and I started passionately then settled into our love-hate routine; occasional moments of ecstasy punctuated with daily irritations, our ardour drizzled on by the mundane and the practical. Familiarity has bred a certain contempt. But just when I feel I am falling out of love with Paris, that we have had one row too many over parked cars or dog dirt or rudeness or hooting drivers or pollution; that I can no longer stand the city's sulky arrogance and shrugging dont-give-a-damn confidence, I come across something that evokes the early pangs of our romance and reminds me why I fell for Paris in the first place. Yesterday, I walked along a road I had walked at least a hundred times and just happened to look up to see, for the first time, Egyptian-style carvings and hieroglyphs on the upper facade of an otherwise nondescript building accommodating offices and wholesale clothing shops.
It was a coup de coeur. In plain English...I have been bowled over by Paris again.
The move to France was only supposed to be for a couple of years, not forever. Then I met The Frenchman. Then I had La Fille. Now there's no way back. But La Fille, to whom a horse is a cheval and a frog is just pond life is still half English. So before the Gallic nation claims her for its own, sprinkles her with garlic, sautés her and swallows her up whole we make regular escapes on the Eurostar. And we have discovered the grass is various shades of green either side of the Channel.