Love comes to make you remember and forget.
Love is fleeting. Love is ephemeral.
Love is Paris.
They say you find love in the most unexpected of people, in the unlikeliest of circumstances. I also discovered that you find love in the most unexpected of places. I say unexpected largely because I never really planned to go to Paris—it seemed the most daunting for this solo traveler, who only knew a grand total of five French words, pommes frites included.
I arrived in Paris on a cold, dark November morning. Armed only with information memorized on how to get to the RER trains and a map to my hotel in Paris’ 14th arrondissement, I make my way into what has been, to date, the most foreign of places to me.
Despite the unfamiliarity, Paris was kind to me, like a mother making sure her never got lost in the RER and Metro trains, as she traversed through this big city. More importantly, Paris revealed various facets of her beauty with each street strolled, each monument seen, each museum visited, and each café stopped at.
The Musée du Louvre, and the richness of art and history she holds enamored me. I was lucky to have seen the Mona Lisa when there were less than 10 people in her hall. I almost fell to my knees when I saw Venus de Milo, Cupid and Psyche, and the Code of Hammurabi. If one must understand what eternity feels like, the Louvre is the closest approximation to capturing what great things humanity could do.
On the other side of the Seine, the Musée d’Orsay provides an intimate experience with Impressionist and post-Impressionist works of art, including those of Monet’s, Degas’, Renoir’s, Cezanne’s, van Gogh’s, and Toulouse-Lautrec’s. What I did love most about the Orsay was its large clock overlooking the main hall.
Then there was the Eiffel Tower—something I never dreamed of seeing with my own eyes. I first caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower while walking along the banks of the Seine, and it is as every bit as grandiose as all the photographs have immortalized it. The best views of the Eiffel Tower are from Trocadero on the other side of the Seine—best enjoyed with crepes and waffles to boot.
There are also not enough words to describe the experience of seeing the Arc de Triomphe. The clouds formed rays behind the monument when I saw it, as if further underscoring that this city is the greatest place on earth.
I also found myself scaling up Butte Montmartre up to the Sacré-Cœur (who said skipping the funicular was a good idea?), and I was rewarded with a majestic view of Paris upon reaching the basilica’s steps.
The Notre-Dame de Paris proved to be equally beautiful and glorious, standing next to the Seine as one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Before it stood a reminder that the cathedral was 850 years old.
Despite the grandeur, I found love in Paris among its streets, neatly lined with apartment buildings and their ornate details, their dainty balconies. I found love in Shakespeare & Company, possibly one of the best bookstores in the world, and now, my favorite.
I found love while strolling along the Left Bank. It is in those quiet moments when you just soak everything in—the chaos, the cold, the history, and the beauty.
This is love at its truest form.
Two days is not enough. Perhaps eternity will never be enough.