Nikki Finds Passion in Paris

Paris is magical.  The passion of the city, of the Parisian way of life, is simply infectious. I arrived at my hotel,  La  Belle Juliette,  just before dawn broke; a little worse for wear and ready for bed. I was offered a room on the top floor with views of cobbled streets and dormer windowed rooftops. The French doors of the bathroom opened onto a Juliette balcony- quite appropriate really. Previously eager to explore the city, exhaustion set in. I removed my shoes and face planted on the large bed to sleep my jet lag away.

As dusk turned to night, I made my way to Saint Ephrem Church; a tiny chapel tucked well off the beaten path.  A single chair was placed at the front. The only light was hundreds of candles that gently flickered, casting long shadows and creating a warm intimate glow.  The waiting audience quietly talked in all different tongues and suddenly I felt very alone. The still air was broken by strains of a cello warming up. Heard but not seen.  A young woman came out, only slightly bigger than her instrument. Her presence was acknowledged by polite applause. After being seated, she lowered her head. In no hurry to begin just being at one with her cello, eyes closed, visualizing the piece she was about to play. And she did.

Her fingers flew up and down the long, graceful neck of the cello and the undulating movements of her bow became a blur. Intricate notes, precise, warm and full, spilled from the body of the cello. She played The Bach Suites – all six – memorized by heart. I sat there, oblivious to the cold, on my narrow, uncomfortable wooden chair, the dampness from the stone floor permeating my body.  The feeling was surreal – I was in Paris, in a tiny chapel in the middle of nowhere, in ecstasy.  Unbidden, tears gently fell off my chin onto my lap as I absorbed what was surely the most beautiful cello performance I had ever heard.

On Sunday, I awoke to church bells and the sound of the bustling street market near by. I was only in Paris for a few days but every moment I reveled being in the anonymity of the city, catching buses and going on the metro, never seeing any one I knew. But each day it was as if I had truly lived.

I had taken my SLR camera, intent to learn how to use it before the Bermuda wedding season began. I captured everything from strangers kissing with an intimacy that’s only respectable in Paris, to the underbelly of Le Tour Eiffel. Days were spent walking through gardens, exploring art galleries and enjoying with abandon the cafes and restaurants. I must confess, I was spell bound as I entered the L’Orangerie museum, home to Monet’s Water Lilies. I first noticed a sign that said “Silence is respected”, and it was. However, nothing prepared me for the enormity of seeing what I had only read about, viewed in heavy art books, learned about at school. Nothing at all.

Sucking  in the very life of the city. Walking until dark, drinking in everything I could see, raw and exposed to the differences between my life of weddings and where I presently was. I had left behind vibrant blue skies that had been replaced by a grey overcast ceiling. And suddenly, on a winding street, the large windows of a famous fashion house revealed the new Spring colours – “rouge et violette” – red and violette and there and then I fell in love. Two colours so unexpectedly joined together but somehow quite perfect. Like lovers fused at the hip.

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