What comes to your mind when you think of Paris? City of love, Eifel tower, Fashion city, city of lights, Perfumes,Wine, French revolution, Napoleon, HEC Paris, Louis Vuitton, French fries, beard, kiss, Sarkozy & his pretty wife Brunni?Phew! So many things are attributed to France and Paris in particular. It definitely made it very difficult for me to look at Paris without being biased from the very beginning.
A fear lurked in me thanks to the movie – TAKEN! (if you are a girl and haven’t watched it, maybe you should and if you have already watched it you will know exactly what am talking about) . But then I kept telling myself it is alright you are with your parents and moreover there many other travelers along with you. Thank god and my parents I had the chance to visit this beautiful city twice in my life. Once in 2009 and again in 2011. The city hadn’t changed much in the span of 2 years.
The best part about Paris is that in spite of it being one of the major cities in the world, it is artistic, historic, romantic and different. It has a very human feel to it unlike the other concrete jungles (as if someone with a good taste built it). At first when I saw the city it seemed like any other European city to me. But once we toured around I realized the difference.
The first thing which a tourist yearns to see in Paris is – The Eifel tower. And like the rest of the tourists we also set out to see the magnificent structure. Previously a wonder of the world, the tower stood tall and gigantic overlooking us. Going to the top most point of the tower in lifts with signboards saying : beware of pickpocketers reminded me of our Indian monuments (suddenly making me feel at home) .The true beauty of Paris, its design, architecture, the Seine river flowing in between can be seen from a bird’s eye view standing on top of level 3 Eifel tower. It was then when I fell in love with Paris.
A tour through the city, visiting famous monuments – the Notre Dame cathedral, the Invalids, the tunnel where princess Diana died in a car crash, the Louvre, the Place De La Concorde, Arch de Triumph, the original statue of liberty, strolling through the world’s most famous, rich, historic and expensive avenue – Champs-Élysées it made me realize that –god I have never loved a city this much (except for Mumbai). I have no words to describe just how amazing those places were. A ride through the beautiful evening cruise serving red wine was breathtaking and extremely romantic. A must visit for every tourist going to Paris. The city is built strategically as if all the important places are along the river Seine. A nice evening ride through the cruise is a treat for our eyes and soul. The fact that Paris is called the city of lights hit me hard when I saw the dazzling shimmering effect of lights on the Eifel tower. At 11 55 Pm, the Eifel tower completely lit up and the lights started shimmering and dazzling for 5 minutes. I don’t think I blinked my eyes even for a second in those five minutes. It was out of the world (Do not miss this one!). The high point of the tour came when we visited the famous Cabaret show – THE LIDO show situated on the Champs-Élysées.
When I first saw the place it appeared like some movie theatre from the outside. There was a queue outside and that’s when I realized this show was something of a different kind. People were dressed up in gowns and tuxedos reminding me of an Oscar award evening. I gulped as I realized we were wrongly dressed for the occasion, we had returned from Disneyland (read the description – http://rrachna.com/disneyland/) wearing jeans and some of my fellow travelers wearing Mickey Mouse T-shirts. I laughed secretly at our unintentional/unaware Fashion faux pas. We were all given separate tables with a complimentary champagne bottles and French wines. We sat there wondering what we are about to see( the dresses, music, décor of the place made me wish it was an Oscar show ..) my dream bubble was broken when the live band began with a pretty woman singing and lots of couples dancing. People were celebrating their birthdays, anniversaries by watching the lido show. We were told the show is yet to begin (& photography was banned). Then began the entry of women so beautiful, so perfectly sculpted it made me rub my eyes in disbelief. But something more shocking struck me – they were topless! I took few seconds to digest the fact and to realize that my jaw was hanging ( I had expected girls to be skimpily dressed, but completely topless never occurred to me) I looked at my mom, she was as surprised as me and my dad was in shock still digesting (It is uncommon for families to see topless women for a show paying nearly 21000INR in India).The show was truly spectacular in terms of costume, dance, stunts, visual effects (no pun intended) no doubt, but the nudity made all 3 of us a little (ok a lot) uncomfortable. The show was aesthetic I told myself several times. It was the first time I saw such a show and for the first time drank French wine with my parents. It was indeed a memorable experience.
The city of Paris became even more memorable because of our amazing French driver. He was witty, old, charming and romantic (assuming most men in Paris are like that ). He would often joke about how different their culture is from ours. He would not let any woman get down the bus without holding his hand for support (oh! the Chivalry was so impressive) Indian men – you have many things to learn! And as usual I wanted a photograph with him along with the bus and then suddenly when my mom screamed, “smile”- he lifted me and held me like veer holding zaara . My expression in the pic tells the rest of the story. The driver added the extra “zing” to our tour and he painted a beautiful picture of the French culture & people in our minds.
Ps – Our French driver often said- We all men like Indian women and food .Making us all blush in unison. The French charm had worked on all of us! Oh I love Paris. And on a serious note it made me wonder what impression our Indian drivers were leaving on foreign travelers in our country :(