Paris in September: la Rentrée, a Happy Return

Eiffel Tower and the Seine, through the metro window

This evening Clive and I arrived in Paris. We’ll spend a few days here, which I requested for my birthday (later this week). I love being here any time of year and that includes September, the month of la rentrée, literally the return – not only of children to school, but of residents to the city after summer holidays, to cultural events, museum exhibits, routines of daily life and – so far anyway, as no heat wave is forecast — cooler temperatures.

Our journey was smooth, beginning with huge thanks to our friend David who offered most kindly to drive us to the local train station after the last-minute cancellation of the branch service from Felixstowe. Merci beaucoup, David! Once on board, Clive did his puzzles and I read and looked out the window (and took his photo).

Clive doing puzzles on the train to London

We anticipated Monday hordes and there were plenty of people at St. Pancras station, but what a difference now that the northern hemisphere school year has begun. Less screaming children, more silver hair.

St. Pancras station, London

I’ve said it many times but I don’t think I’ll ever get over how easy and fast it is to travel from city centre to city centre via the Eurostar. You barely have time to unwind, open a book or magazine or have a snooze and a snack. Thirty minutes or so in the UK, then you enter the tunnel. Twenty minutes after that, the train emerges into northern France, which looks a lot like our beloved Suffolk.

Northern France through the Eurostar window

The total journey takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. Gare du Nord is undergoing endless renovation and construction and is rather grungy, especially compared to St. P. But it’s all about location and I can never help feeling thrilled – over the moon, actually — because we’ve arrived in Paris

Gare du Nord, Paris

At Gare du Nord, we hopped on the first metro, then made one change.

Changing metros & never a long wait

As usual, I had to photograph La Dame de Fer, the iron lady, through the window as we crossed the Seine (photo at the top of this post). I wasn’t quick enough to catch the new koala on the side of the Aussie Embassy – maybe another day.

It’s a rare first night we pass up a visit to our favourite waiter, Vlad and a relaxing kir at ‘our’ café, but this evening we lost some time searching unsuccessfully for parsnips for Clive’s stew. We forgot or never knew our parsnip man doesn’t work on Mondays – however we did find all the other ingredients so the chef has what he needs and we will enjoy his famous beef/veggie dish for a couple of nights this week. We looked for Vlad on our way back but it was later than usual and we think he had left for the evening.

A walk was then in order and we appreciated the sunset behind the statue of Maréchal Foch (a French general and Supreme Allied Commander in WW I) at Place du Trocadéro along with a visit to Ben Franklin on his hillside. Everything is looking wonderful

Sunset at Place du Trocadéro, Paris

Ben Franklin and his flowers

Clive snapped this photo of me on the Trocadéro esplanade. Paris is so much more than the Eiffel Tower, infinitely more, yet the sight of this graceful symbol of the city still moves me. I’m so happy and grateful to be here.

Bonjour, Paris. I’m so happy to see you again.

Cheers and thanks for reading. Happy rentrée to all who are welcoming autumn and the new school year and happy spring Down Under.

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