My first encounter with Paris was before 2010. Back then, I lived each moment in the City of Lights to the maximum, feeling exaltation with very step I took. Some of my most cherished memories are closely tied to the walks along the Seine, with its small boats, cruise yachts and vessels of all kinds.
One late August afternoon, we took the small cruise boat Bateaux Mouches from the quay near the Eiffel Tower. We sat on the deck, feeling the mild breeze on our cheeks just before dusk. The boat set off on the barely moving waves of the Seine and subjective time seemed to pass slower as we lived those moments at a high intensity. The tour guide was presenting the historical landmarks, but our minds could not record them with exactness. The monuments of the city were unwinding fast on the two banks of the river and our eyes were not prepared to process so many enchanting images. That magical night was only amplified by the wonderful music and lyrics of Yves Montand:
Sous le ciel de Paris
Coule un fleuve joyeux
Il endort dans la nuit
Les clochards et les gueux
Sous le ciel de Paris
Different size vessels were floating on the Seine. The elite of the society organizes sumptuous receptions on their luxurious yachts anchored on the river. But some particular small boats caught our attention. They served as permanent floating homes. With low maintenance costs, their tenants only have to pay the utility bills. We saw furniture on their decks and even small gardens. The owners were sitting comfortably on a sofa on the Seine. How I wish I was living in such a floating house and be as relaxed as the people I was looking at.
On the right bank of the Seine, between the Change and Arcole bridges, we saw sand beaches and green spaces with colored cabins. Crowds of people were relaxing there at that hour. The place is called the Paris-Plage and other great European capitals have a similar spot.
The imposing landmarks were marching before us, along the banks of the Seine, which divides Paris in two for as long as 13km. The river circles the Ile de la Cité and Ile St. Louis with the Palace of Justice with its famous Congiergerie and Sainte Chapelle, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, the French Institute, d’Orsey Museum and other edifices. We passed under the Pont Neuf Bridge and several more out of the total of 37 bridges that cross the Seine. After going round the Ile de la Cité we returned to where we left from.
One particular romantic scene on the piers of the Seine caught our attention. Life can be beautiful no matter how old you are, if you know how to live it. A couple of tourists, long past their first youth, were enjoying each others company in the night, seeming so peaceful and smiling toward us while holding two glasses of red wine in their hands.
During our stay in Paris, we took quite a few walks along the Seine. On our last day, we spent hours in a row on the pier near Pont Neuf and watched the buildings on the bank, the ships with tourists and the floating homes. We sat on a bench and toasted a glass of red wine to the greatness of Paris, thanking it for the joys it brought us, all the while replaying the lyrics of Vanessa Paradis in our minds:
Je ne sais, ne sais, ne sais pas pourquoi
on s’aime comme ça, la Seine et moi
je ne sais, ne sais, ne sais pas pourquoi
on s’aime comme ça la Seine et moi