Seeing a café called Bonne Nouvelle wasn’t unusual considering I was in the area of Bonne Nouvelle but it felt like a sign and I smiled as I snapped a picture of it.
It was indeed good news and I was already off to a good start.
Waking up feeling so much better than I had over the past few days was good enough news for me.
Walking towards the metro earlier, a bus stopped beside me, the sign read Republique and quick as a flash without thinking I jumped on board, I was on my way and I already knew this was going to be a good day.
The first item on my homemade itinerary was a passage of no interest, it was a long shot anyway and it didn’t perturb me, especially when only a couple of doors down an open door with greenery at the end of a passage was shouting at me to sneak in.
Lately I have decided to take the quickest shot I can in case I get thrown out and then if no one bothers me, I can relax and start getting creative.
This was one of the prettiest courtyards I have stumbled upon and I literally did, stumble upon this one. What a find.
Lush with creeping plants, bushes, a little arbour, tables and chairs dotted around and pretty pots full of colour in the middle of winter had me beaming already, and the day had only just begun.
A cast iron Gothic inspired 19th century catholic church where Jules Verne was married was something I had been hoping to see for a while.
Standing in front of the plain façade, as if like magic, the prettiest, daintiest bells I had heard coming from a church, started to chime.
Paroisse Catholique Saint-Eugène – Sainte-Cécile was breath taking, probably the loveliest and most colourful I have seen in Paris.
Quietly, sauntering around, admiring the marvellous stained glass highlighted by the beautiful sunny day outside, I noted that perhaps there had been a funeral earlier.
A priest moved towards me, offered a nod and a quiet bonjour as he blew out the candles. Feeling slightly embarrassed, I let my camera fall by my side.
He smiles and rattles off numbers that I am trying to add up; million and … my brain stutters I am not good with French numbers, there is too much adding up for my liking. He rescues me with his broken English and begins to tell me about the history of the church.
He taps on the columns, cast iron he tells me.
And Jules Verne was married here, I respond with an intonation a little too high that changed my statement into a question. He smiles, yes that too. He was lovely and made me feel very relaxed and welcome and once again, I was beaming.
I am not a religious person and I don’t know if the priest had something to do with making me feel relaxed, or perhaps because I had felt better than I had, or simply walking around Paris with no real agenda, except to visit the places I had been waiting for twelve months to see, in a quiet area of the city that I love. No pressure to rush, no appointments just me and Paris.
Perhaps being in Paris itself, was all the medicine I needed, I felt good and very relaxed.
Last night’s decision of which ‘home-made’ itinerary I would choose for today, was decided by one item on the walk, and that was to see the view of the Sacre-Coeur rising above the Notre Dame de Lorette.
I hoped that I had worked out the best vantage point. I arrived by Boulevard Haussmann and as I made the turn onto Rue Laffitte in the 9th arrondissement, boom, there it was.
I think as I get older, I tend to talk to myself a bit and I may have muttered a few words of excitement as I fumbled around my fabulously new camera bag whilst pulling out the camera.
It is little moments like these that get me excited. I am not sure if it is the photo opportunity, or exploring Paris’ beauty, I guess a harmonious combination of both and it fits me like a glove.
Making my way down the street watching the spectacle grow larger with each step I took, closer and closer until slowly Sacre Coeur disappeared like a genie, slowly sucked away from view, leaving Notre Dame de Lorette to take pride of place in the street view.
Imagine entering Rue Laffitte a couple of streets too early and missing that view. I guess you would be none of the wiser.
Or worse still heading towards Boulevard Haussmann and not following my trusty tip of always remembering to look up and behind.
‘She gives very good advice but often follows it herself’. I remember reading this quote once and unfortunately, it reminds me of myself.
Notre Dame de Lorette was closed. With my excitement of wanting to admire this view, I didn’t follow my own tips and instructions that were spelled out in big bold letters in my very own handwriting; ‘best to do this on a Tuesday or Thursday’ and what was today, let’s say it in French because then I won’t feel so guilty, it was Mercredi; Wednesday.
I needed to eat in order to take the tablets for this pesky flu I have managed to catch since arriving in Paris and a café with brightly coloured tables and chairs and a reasonably priced plat du jour of Risotto was enough for me to enter the warmth of the plastic covered terrace and find myself a seat.
Although I will happily order risotto, I am always a little nervous about what I will receive. In my opinion there is no in between, either it is good or not.
La Terrasse Choron’s risotto was delicious, perfect texture, served with a simple yet creative side of fried bacon and capsicum in a lettuce cup to add some salt and crunch.
I am unsure if I can recommend a café based purely on their risotto alone but I am going to, if they can get that right, chances are they will get everything else right too.
Passage Briare, opposite the café was one of the last couple of things left on my list.
As it turned out, quite good timing because I was beginning to lose the daylight from the short winter’s day.
Why it was on my list? Who knows why. Sometimes I never quite remember these things myself but my guess is, I spotted the passage on a map and thought it was worth a look, considering it was in the area.
But I knew exactly why Square d’Orleans was on my list.
Chopin lived here for almost seven years before moving to Place Vendome, just before his death and George Sand also lived in the building of the second, adjoining courtyard.
Besides all of that, the historic square promised to be a very attractive one and I am a sucker for an attractive courtyard.
In the quiet affluent area such as this, it was certain there would be a proper concierge.
I glanced at the sign that read ‘do not enter’ and I hesitated, but only for a millisecond.
My shoulders tightened when I saw the man look up. Avoid eye contact I thought to myself, pretend you are on the metro and I tested a more confident gait.
He looked back down. Phew.
I was in.
I could see a few people peering through their windows and I thought to myself, yes I can see you too.
Maybe a single woman with trespasser stamped on her forehead and a camera in her hand isn’t too much of a threat and everyone managed to ignore me, including a man and his young boy when I offered a quiet bonjour.
Being the risk taker that I am, I rode the bus home.
Earlier, with a little glint in my eyes, I had noticed a bus stop marked Hotel de Ville not far from Square d’Orleans and within seconds I was snuggled up with a window seat watching Paris flash before my eyes.
After my horrendous few days, shivering and sweating with a head that felt as heavy as a bowling ball and as big as a watermelon, I finally felt alive again.
I couldn’t have asked for a better or more relaxing day, exploring one tiny section of Paris.
The music of Michael Jackson put a spring in my step as I disembarked at Hotel de Ville. A large crowd had gathered around the dance troupe; Groupe Entourage, I joined them, laughing and clapping along with the audience.
Tears welled up in my eyes. Don’t be a cry baby I said to myself as I took myself off to dinner and a non-alcoholic drink at my favourite bar.