#engagementthrowback Paris: Part Two

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Waking up, I forgot where I was. I forgot about the ring on my finger. I forgot about the flurry of congratulations. I forgot about the champagne and the Megabus. When I first opened my eyes, I’d forgotten everything and then, rubbing away the crumbs of sleep and stretching up, I realised with a fresh excitement that I hadn’t been dreaming at all.

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I was engaged.

I was in Paris.

I was deliriously happy and in love and all that cheesy, wonderful stuff that we all secretly crave and relish.

It almost felt too good to be true.

We started the day with chocolate chip brioche for breakfast and strong cups of tea and we leisurely mooched around the apartment making a plan for our first full day together in Paris.

As we were so close to Montmarte, we decided to begin our adventure there. The Sacre Coeur was the first stop and we went inside and starred open mouthed and in awe at the stunning architecture before us. It was pretty spectacular and I’m always flabbergasted that these amazing, huge, intricate buildings were built so long ago, way before JCB’s and cranes were invented. I don’t know how they did it.

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Suitably full of culture, we meandered around the Place du Tertre, watching the artists painting and sketching frantically under a colourful canopy of umbrella’s; the onset of rain threatening to prevent them from earning quick commissions. Sadly, the sun was nowhere to be seen.

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We managed to withstand the artists lure and settled down at a table outside under the awning of a restaurant and we were soon accompanied by glasses of white white and two portions of moules marineres and frites. Whilst we were eating, feeling very authentic having ordered our meal utilising our finest french language skills, an elderly male artist (his name escapes me now) in a wax jacket and beret started chatting with us, telling us about his adventures in India in his youth and his love of art. He drew what he interpreted as a heart – but what looked more like a small, plump bottom – on our paper place mats and told us to come and find him in the square if we changed our minds about a portrait. As lovely as he was, neither of us were particularly convinced by his so called artistic skills, the evidence startling obvious on our now graffitied place mats.

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Fed and watered, we carried on with our adventure and journeyed to the Champs Elysees, where we walked down to the Arc du Triomphe. Oli, stood amazed at the foot of it when we got there, entranced by the sheer madness of the constant, mad rush of cars slaloming around it.

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The Champs Elysees is a must see, with its manicured trees and chain of well known shops stretching along either side of it – some a little pricier than others. The walk from Charles de Gaulle metro station down the Champs Elysees is a long one, perfect for walking off a breakfast of croissants. We stopped for a little refreshment whilst on the Champs, at Laduree, the french patisserie famous for its angelic little macarons.

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They have Laduree in London but I’d never gotten around to going, so ‘when in Paris’ seemed like the perfect time, plus my guidebook recommended it. We had to queue up to get into Laduree, it was that popular. But it was well worth the wait when we were eventually seated in the Macaron Bar. As I expected the patisserie was on the pricier side of life, so we ordered a set of four Macarons and had two each along with some tap water. I’m not sure the waiter was terribly impressed but little did he know that we have a wedding to pay for now!

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Refreshed, we carried on walking down the Champs Elysees’ until we reached the Place de la Concorde and the Jardin du Tuileries – one of the loveliest gardens in Paris. I love that about Paris, and London too actually; that in the middle of a bustling, thriving city there are these stunning, open, green spaces. Intricately pretty, with fountains and elaborate statues and flower beds, full of life and colour. Walking through Paris’ Jardins is a great way of breaking up a day of site seeing and injecting a little bit of nature and peace and tranquility back into the day. Oh and resting your aching feet.

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We hopped on the Metro again after we’d had our fill of the garden and made our way to the Eiffel Tower so that Oli could have an up-close-and-personal look at it. The Euros were starting the week or so after we were visiting, so they’d started setting up for it and a giant orange and white inflatable football, hung between the legs of the Eiffel tower.

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Once we’d peered up at Pillar Sud, North, Quest and Est and had a little read into why the Eiffel tower was built in the first place, it was most definitely time for a sugary, sweet pick me up. So we grabbed our first crepe of the holiday; the melted Nutella crammed inside it, oozing out as we took hungry bites. You can’t do Paris without at least one crepe. Ideally you need about seven.

Soon after, we made our way back to our apartment, stopping off at the local Supermarche to pick up a quick and tasty dinner because we were headed out that night.

Oli had booked us tickets to the Moulin Rouge show as another engagement treat. The show didn’t start until 11.30pm, which was exciting in itself.

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So after a quick bite of camembert and baguette, a swig or two more of our never-ending supply of champagne and a quick change of clothes and make up reapplication for moi, we headed out into the rain. I was so glad that I thought to bring my coat with me, otherwise my hair would have been an even frizzier disaster. The Parisian weather was not being terribly kind to us.

The walk to the Moulin Rouge was a lot longer than we initially thought, on account of the fact that we were going the wrong way for most of it. Time was not of the essence and with a only a few minutes to spare we suddenly saw the glow of red lights and that iconic windmill and heaved a huge sigh of relief. We’d made it!

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Oli had thought that the Moulin Rouge show would essentially be a reenactment of one of his favourite films. But it was definitely not anything like the Kidman and McGregor classic.

Let me start by saying that there were a lot of boobs. And I mean a lot. The outfits had holes specifically cut out of them to facilitate the viewing of boobs. But it is surprising how quickly you become immune to boobs when they’re are hundreds of them stomping about the stage, framed in sequins and neon lights.

Boobs aside, the show was AMAZING! It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. There were dance numbers, interrupted by little skits and acts, the standard of which was out of this world. One of the acts was a couple rollerskating at alarming speeds on a tiny round platform, the man throwing the girl up in the air and twisting her about all over the place whilst spinning rapidly himself. Both Oli and I sat agog.

Sitting there at our table, in the red glow of the Moulin Rouge, sipping away at our bottle of champagne, watching such a spectacular show, was such a highlight for me. It felt so unique and grown up and almost naughty and decadent to be out at one o’clock in the morning, in Paris of all places.

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As half past one approached, I began to feel very sleepy indeed. In fact, I actually nodded off and woke up a few minutes later, to a stage crowded with pink feathers and sultry lights and wondered whether I was in a dream or reality. It was the latter, although it really didn’t feel like it.

When the show had finished, we slowly mooched back to our apartment, taking in the sights and sounds of the night and stopping for a midnight crepe along the way.

It was one of those magical, never-ending days that I’d quite like to bottle and keep so I can return to it whenever I fancy. If only that were possible, eh?

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