A little over a week ago I spent a day in Paris. Now I know that it sounds great but I was actually there to work and spent the entire day in a meeting facility. Don’t get me wrong it was a nice and casual meeting facility. But it was neither a sightseeing, nor a shopping day and besides getting to the meeting from Gare du Nord and back in the evening I didn’t see much of the city.
Although I haven’t lived in Paris for close to 6 years, it feels still pretty much like home. I grew up 50 km outside of the city, studied and worked there. I know the city pretty well: I’ve explored it by foot over the years, loving to loose myself in its lost streets, and connecting its dots together. There was a time where I didn’t even need to look at a subway map to know how to get from point A to point B. It’s still, almost, true.
Despite the little time I spent there, coincidence was in my favor. Outside of our meeting place, from which we stepped out for breaks, was this building whose side was completely tiled in blue. It’s not a very common sighting in Paris where most buildings are either made of “pierre de taille” or of bricks. It reminded me of Spain and Portugal. I loved the color variations and the interlocking pattern, which would look great as an upholstery fabric for a set of armchairs.
After my workday was finished I had an hour to get back to the station and to catch my train back to Brussels. Since I was only 5 subway stops away I walked the distance. The evening was cold but the day had been a beautiful one without a single cloud. The city was bustling as I passed an area built at the end of the 19th century and known amongst other for its boulevard theatres. A little further, next to Gare de l’Est, were dozens of Afro hair salons filled with men, women and kids. Next to them were nail salons under the care of Asian ladies. I loved observing how everything seemed to have an order despite the apparent chaos.
I reached Gare du Nord shortly after the sunset while dusk was settling on the city. Hector Guimard’s well-known Art Nouveau subway entrances were already lit up and the main entrance to the station was under its best lighting. I grabbed a couple of interior design magazines and settled down in the train on my way back to Brussels.
Despite its noise, crowd and traffic jams Paris is never as beautiful as when you don’t have much time to enjoy it. I loved being there for this short time. See you soon city of lights!