The seventh Arrondissement is home to the grandest of dames. That most recognised of monuments. A cultural icon. And I confess my very favourite. La Tour Eiffel.
Oh gosh. There really is something about that view. I always select a window seat on the flight. It’s to look out over Paris as we come in to land. I find the tower then trace out to the other landmarks. And it’s absolutely thrilling. Every single time.
Now my new obsession is finding an apartment with that view. Like this one I stayed in recently. Because there’s nothing better than unwinding at the end of a day’s sightseeing as the tower sparkles on your horizon. Just for you.
Perhaps it’s whimsy. But there’s something intrinsically good about going to sleep and then waking up with her watching over you.
The first time I saw the Tour Eiffel close up I was genuinely surprised. It was at how pretty she is. The curls and colour of the ironwork. Like they’d been drawn in across a Paris background. I was besotted.
After that the more I found out about the tower the more I liked her. Seems that to start with the Parisians didn’t want her. Thought she would be too big. Ruin the skyline. She was initially meant to be a temporary structure. But she soon won their affection. Got to stay on. Merci!
That sparkling light show was temporary too. It was designed to celebrate the year 2000. But it was so loved the city has kept turning it on ever since. Merci Beaucoup!
Like most woman there is some maintenance involved. That lattice iron work is repainted every years seven years to prevent rusting. There are actually three shades of ‘Eiffel Tower Brown’ graduating from light to dark. Top to bottom of the structure. Wow!
I don’t actually visit the tower these days. I reckon what is special is her presence there. I like to see her in the scene which you don’t when you’re actually up there. So I prefer to cross the river to the Place du Trocadero to gaze at her. Or sit on the lovely terrasse of Cafe de L’Homme nearby.
If the weather is kind it’s lovely to picnic with everyone else on the Champ der Mars. Or wander the beautiful Saxe-Breteuil Market on Place de Breteuil on a Thursday or Saturday morning. Buying fresh food and flowers while the Tour Eiffel sits elegantly in the background is a tres bit special.
Whatever you choose. She is best left in the view. Rising in the background. A lovely sparkling spectacle every hour on the hour. After sunset.
Sometimes she turns up at unexpected moments. Like one evening after dining at the Hotel Particulare in Montmartre. We had paused at the top of the stairs. To adjust to the dark of the night. Then the lights started. Magical. We hadn’t realised that view was there! Oh my. Like being in a Chagall painting.
So to the rest of the Seventh arrondissement. Much of what you’ve come for is here. The Musee d O’say. Rodins Museum and Gardens. Musee du Quai Branly. That stellar Department store Le Bon Marche. The cobblestone market street of Rue Cler. The new green space Les Berges on the banks of the Seine just along from Pont de l’Alma. And Deyrolle on the Rue du Bac is a not to be missed cabinet of curiosities. Nor is Galerie Maeght nearby. And oh yes La Patisserie des Reves. For sculptural sweet treats. As with any area in Paris I could go on and on.
Yet I have a confession. I’ve never stayed here despite all these attractions. It hasn’t appealed. It’s tres swanky. A bit upper crust. Ancient and affluent. The area is shaped on the map like a diamond after all!
Many do though. Because it puts you close to so much. So I think if you do you should choose quite carefully. Close to Rue Cler. Or Rue du Bac. Some street life. Otherwise you may find it all a bit too quiet. Too discreet. Stuffy even.
Everything will be going on behind those grand close doors. And you won’t be let in. No way to be part of it. Not a bit. Not that you expect to be best friends overnight. You know that about Parisians. But truly I can’t imagine that on a short stay you’d even get to say bonjour to a neighbour. Sorry. But I really do reckon that’s how it’d be.
So here’s the thing. There is much to be enjoyed in this area. Art. Culture. Architecture. Gardens. Food. Top notch shopping. Don’t miss it.
Then go home to your apartment elsewhere. Somewhere more ordinary. Make it one with that view. Or eat somewhere looking out to the tower. Or take the Bateau Mouche on the Seine at dusk. Yes its touristy but still gorgeous. Hint. Take the one from below Pont Neuf.
Allow yourself the pleasure of ashamedly oohing and aahhing as the Tour Eiffel puts on her show. There’s something about it . About the big view. The sparkling lights. It’s expanding and childish and gorgeous all at once. It’s a feeling to put inside you. To take home.
Because sometimes you need a big thing. A big view. So that when your usual life gets you down a bit. When you get all caught up with the small concerns. The frustrations of your ordinary life. You can look inside yourself and find a bigger view. A bigger you. Yes I know I’ve said this kind of thing before. Here.
And if you happen to miss it. Got stuck on the metro. Stayed in the cafe too long. No worries. It happens on the hour every hour after dark. Every night in Paris.
Like life. And your dreams. She is showing you something. Maybe that you too get to start over again. Or that a special moment can illuminate the most ordinary of times. That you can shine. That the best way is a little bit regularly.
And when the moment turns up all you need do is sparkle with all your might.
Just writing that makes my spirits lift. I hope it lifts yours.
Be the Rose. Bernadette.