“Y-a-t-il plus belle façon de suspendre le temps?” Is there a better way to suspend time?
Oh how this phrase strikes a chord within. My heart’s been missing Paris. Alisha Wielfaert was in Paris recently and referred to the city as her “soul’s home.” This is true for me.
For some, time feels suspended simply by being in Paris. But where to go for this introverted soul when the hustle and bustle, noise, and intensive morning language school learnings, L’Atelier 9, feel a bit overwhelming?
Because my airbnb was in the 18th, Montmartre, I spent a fair amount of time walking to and from school, SoulStrolling about the neighborhood. I meandered my way frequently along the curvy, windy uphill roads to Sacre Coeur. I’m not sure how many thousands of tourists frequent this beautiful location; what I do know is where to find an oasis of calm when solitude is required: Parc de la Turlure
I enjoy walking in cemeteries. Something draws me in: the quiet, nature, sacred space. My feet tread lightly, my voice hushed; a gratitude and acknowledgement of those gone before. An invitation to ponder my life, this journey, both in seriousness, and with an open playful heart. Montmartre Cemetery
I rented a red stick shift Fiat a few years ago while driving through the French countryside of Provence with my pal Kayce S. Hughlett. I adored that little car: look which headstone caught my eye as we were about to say, au revoir.
While there are multitudes of delicious restaurants, bistros and cafés in Paris, sometimes dinner in is required.. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy renting an apartment. An Italian deli selling fresh pastas and sauces was a 15 minute stroll down the hill.
A few favorite museums beckon my return. Musee Marmottan with its collection of Monet paintings, open spaces and inviting architecture call. Journal, pastels and multi colored pens in hand, I sit with whichever paintings, sculptures, or other art forms speak.
I have a soft spot for Claude Monet and his panels that span an infinity like form in Musée de l’Orangerie. Over time, different pieces in the panels draw my eye. On this particular October afternoon I was struck by the darker colors in the willow tree.
Sitting on the bench I overheard a conversation between a young man and his grandmother: “Mais, grand-mère, cela prend du temps. Je pense que nous avons un peu peur des ombres.” At least this is what I think I heard him say: “Grandmother, it takes time. I think we have some fear of the dark (shadows).” Seated beside me, his right hand in her left, their eyes gazing at the panel across from us. His left hand pointing at the tree, the dark colors, the shadows…..we three silent in the space his words filled.
Their conversation prompts an internal dialogue: What does the dark evoke within me? Fear? Curiosity? Were are my own ‘shadows’ and how do I converse with them?
A cool, crisp, sunny fall day put forth its bouquet of color. Homework in hand I sauntered my way through the garden, pausing at forms that caught my eye, gradually making my way toward an empty bench; the perfect spot for my mind and soul. Musee Rodin
Water, The Seine. Walking or biking via Velib. So many iconic sites along this riverbank: Notre Dame, multiple bridges, La Tour Eiffel … one of my favorite moments this time – watching the dancers below the Jardin des Plantes. Along the walkway, in a sphere like cut out on the side of the Seine. Couples dancing. Salsa, Waltz…music playing via speakers. Their bodies swaying, touching, flowing. Emotionally moving as the water flowed behind, music punctuating the crisp fall afternoon: suspendre le temps.
Touristy, absolutely, but the Eiffel Tower draws me every time. Watching her lights sparkle, twinkle, dance when night falls is magical. It lights my soul no matter how often I see her.
When you visit Paris, may the above places guide and support you in your journey with the flow of time.