I love movies. As a child, I spent a lot of time watching them with my mom, who is also an avid fan. We had an impressive selection of Disney films at our house, and every day we would choose one to screen and would be immediately mesmerized by it. One title in particular captured my attention – 1970’s The Aristocats, which tells the story of dapper felines Berlioz, Marie and Toulouse as they navigate the City of Love, Paris. I remembered being entranced and I believed that, one day, I would find myself there. Not long ago I did.
When I first arrived in Paris from the Netherlands, it reminded me of my native New York City, with tourists at every street corner. Still, its distinct Gothic architecture also set it apart from anything I’d seen at home. As you can imagine, I was eager to take in as many landmarks as a I could. I began with the jaw-dropping Palace of Versailles. My eyes widened as I walked down its long, mirrored halls. I listened carefully as my footsteps and those of the other visitors echoed around me. I followed that (as much as anything can follow a palace) with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. I had taken the metro to this beautiful monument and as I walked closer and closer it seemed to grow bigger and bigger. I almost felt as though I was in a dream or even that I was one of the characters in The Aristocats. Lots of photos and selfies were taken with this backdrop. Then it was on to the Arc De Triomphe, Champs Elysees and, capping off the day, the Sacre Coeur Bascilica, beautiful at sunset.
The next day was rainy, but I was still in Paris and I was not about to miss out on anything. I started my self-guided tour at the Luxembourg Palace and Garden, beautiful and in full bloom in the spring. From there I did not have far to travel to my next destination, the Lourve. I’d booked tickets in advance and spent four hours getting lost in the place. It was incredible. There is nothing like seeing Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa up close. (By the way, the tale of the Mona Lisa's eyes following you is indeed true!) After visiting the Lourve, I went to a beautiful public greenspace known as the Champs De Mars.
I spent the duration of my time in Paris enjoying the scenery and interacting with the local residents. One moment in particular stands out to me. I met a deaf woman named Kathy who was born and raised in Porte De Chatallion, Paris. I was able to communicate with her because my parents are also hearing impaired and I am able to sign. As we sat together, Kathy told me about her childhood in Paris, her children and her ex-marriage. She signed to me that her love and memories of Paris and its landmarks will last forever, and that she wished the same for me. She even joked that she would die seeing the Eiffel Tower. With our conversation fresh in my mind, I know that I to return there one last time to see it light up at night. I was magical and brought me back to my childhood. Au revior, Paris, until I see you again.