Paris (the engagement)
My beloved and I had planned a quiet day exploring Paris together, but I had no idea what a wonderful surprise was in store for me. We set off from our hotel, delighted that the Parisien weather gods were smiling, and purchased a brioche and a chocolate croissant to share from a little local boulangerie. Rather than eat in, we took our pastries "to go" and headed to the nearby banks of the Seine River to eat and take in the view.
After breakfast had been consumed we ambled along the river banks on our way to the Louvre. My beloved kept slowing down to an awkward pace. After questioning his ostensibly unusual gait, he told me he had something to ask me....the rest, as they say, was history!
Obviously, we were both thrilled (and I was particularly taken by my gorgeous "three gold" fusion ring - it definitely suits my tastes to a tee, as I'm not one for the conventional engagement "rock"). After nearly ten years, a mortgage and two feline children together, this was a really special step in our relationship. Amusingly, as tourists and residents of Paris will know, the banks of the Seine are home to some....ummm...."interesting" smells in the morning. Shortly after popping the question, it was necessary to sprint up a steep flight of stairs to escape the stench of urine (romantic!) - something I'm sure we'll giggle about when reminiscing in years to come! Clearly these signs don't do much to deter such antisocial behaviour.
Giddy with excitement (clearly, we're still kids at heart) we continued our walk to the Louvre, now with a definite spring in our steps, where we purchased our electronic tickets and walked straight into the museum without queuing. First on our Louvre itinerary was La Joconde (the Mona Lisa for the non-Francophones). This rather diminutive piece is clearly a crowd pleaser and the room was bustling with visitors who were jostling for the prime photo opportunity.
My favourite parts of the museum were the Egyptian antiquities and the Roman sculptures.
Our morning was capped off with a low-key picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries, which adjoin the museum - one of the few public outdoor spaces in Paris where one is permitted to sit on the grass.
After enjoying our baguette in the sunshine of the gardens, we set off in the direction of the Champs Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe. What a wonderful walk (and not bad for those among us who enjoy popping into a shop...or five!).
Late in the afternoon, we took the subway back to our hotel, where we met our travel companions, announced our engagement and headed out to meet my beloved's cousin (a lovely lady, who is originally from Marseille, but has spent the last decade or so in Paris) for a dinner in the Montmatre neighbourhood. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of what proved to be a magnificent meal at Le Petit Parisien (28 Rue de Tholoze, 75018 Paris). This may well have been due to the considerable quantities red wine that were imbibed (hey, you only get engaged once!). In any case, this unpretentious little gem of a restaurant is well worth a visit when in Paris - my beef cheek was moist, tender and full of flavour.
After our meal, I did a particularly good job (well, so I thought!) of stumbling back to the hotel.
WHAT. A. DAY!!