The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by writer & photographer Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

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Issue 32; Take Me Back To.......Paris

We are all stuck, not just in our country or even our home towns but our houses.  I feel lucky just to head to the butchers on a Saturday afternoon, but this has made me miss the freedoms and places our world offers.  I began to note down places I want to visit, some for the first time, others again, not to reminisce over times gone by but to see and experience the things I didn’t the first time round or have never done.  And I am going to start with Paris as it holds a certain place in my heart.

Even though only visited in 2019 it is the top of the revisit list, not only because this was where I proposed, I know, a little cliched, but perfect nonetheless. But because this was my first time to Paris so we did what many do and went full on tourist.  When you go somewhere like Paris for that first time, it is a must to see the sights, partly to acknowledge people when they say did you see this or that and also to get round the looks of disgust when you didn’t.  We pushed and shoved and covered our ears through the noise in the Louvre, we crept through the catacombs, we queued a lot in very warm temperatures and looked up at the Eiffel tower, even thought we couldn’t go up it.  You see you need to buy tickets even to enter months in advance.

So what else do I want to do in Paris? I want to slow down and just be in Paris, true I will get tickets to go up the Eiffel tower, even though I always find such attractions are better looking up than looking down, but then I can tick that box done.  I want to head to 38 Riv the second best rated Jazz club in Paris or maybe Le Caveau de la Huchette to watch Jive Dancers or even give it a go with more Jazz and drinks.  Maybe a trip to Chez Jean Claude for cocktails, the name a pun as located on Rue Vandamme.

We didn’t head to any shopping areas and I feel we did miss out by not heading to some of these well known shopping experiences but a long weekend of being a tourist is tough on the feet.  It is a must to now head to the Galeries Lafayette department store, even if just for the architecture of this incredible interior space which is located along Blvd. Haussmann.  And then a stroll along Boulevard Saint Germain and Rue Du Bac for some great shopping delights.  Or to take a meander down the Champs Elysses, popping into one of the many cafes before browsing items that I am unable to afford in the luxury specialist shops.  Nor did we venture into the street markets in Bastille and Eastern Paris, with a heavy emphasis on food with a few other items thrown in it is a must for the to visit list.

This talk of food markets really does bring us on to the topic of food and with Paris being known for its gourmet cuisine and Michelin stars, there are many restaurants at the higher end, like the Pavilion Le Doyen, headed up by former Ritz chef Christian Le Squer.

With so much to do and see it is certainly a city that needs to be frequented on more than one occasion.  As Hemingway said “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast”, and I for one believe he was correct on this, even after one visit, Paris is a city that seeps into your soul.