For my 31st birthday, my ex took me to Paris for the weekend. He bought 1st class Eurostar train tickets and we left from London. It was my first time in 1st class and I was most impressed by our little jar of jam for breakfast, an English brand I can no longer remember. We shared a pot of jam so that I could keep mine and take with me back to Berlin, not that I did anything special with it at home. When we stepped out of the train in Paris, I soon realized I was walking behind Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief of US Vogue, a small, slim woman wearing a Chanel jacket, white jeans and large sunglasses. I wasn’t sure at first but when we heard her giving orders to her male companion we concluded it must be her. I overheard her ordering chicken and avocado for lunch in case she was late and my ex heard her saying she wanted not a lemonade but a citron presse, which was the real lemonade. I vowed at that moment, I too would have a citron presse during my visit. At the end of the platform, we saw two other middle-aged men waiting for her and the four of them walked off with Ms. Wintour giving more orders.
Our hotel was perfect. Modest but with Parisian charm, clean and situated on a quiet residential street just 10 minutes away from Notre-Dame. As we walked down the boulevard toward Ile de la Cite, we could see it in the distance. During this trip, I was quite obsessed with buying everything on Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP list of French pharmacy goods- Biafine, Embryolisse, Avibon, Bioderma Crealine H2O Michelle solution, Alfalux Baume Levres. Having previously been very angry at my ex for not picking up the products during his last trip to France, it became one of my top priorities and thinking back on it now, sidelining what should have been a romantic weekend with my ex. The stuff sits in my room now just waiting for me to get chapped lips, a second degree burn and wrinkles.
As soon as we walked out of our hotel the first day after dropping off our stuff, I dragged him into a pharmacy across the street. The blinking green sign of the pharmacy became a beacon toward which I directed us to on every street through multiple arrondissements. I compared prices, buying three Avibons from three different pharmacies and even convincing my ex along the way for his own need of a tube of Avibon for his zits. I related as read on the GOOP website, a French actress swears she hasn’t aged because of this shit, trust me you will need it.
It happened, because of my birthday being on a Tuesday, that our first day in Paris was on a Sunday, the first Sunday of the month and all the museums in Paris were free. In order to save as much money as possible, I packed a full afternoon of museums into our itinerary. First we walked to Sainte Chapelle from the hotel but then realized we had to pay an entrance fee so we walked to our next destination, the l’Orangerie. Consisting of two or three large rooms, I could have spent hours studying the details of Monet’s waterlilies. With color and a few paint strokes, Monet made visible so many facets of the scene; the water, light, reflections, plants.
From the l’Orangerie we headed straight to the Rodin museum. It was sunny and the roses were in bloom. I took a photo with a statue of my literary idol Balzac and even saw him nude inside the museum to my disappointment. One should never have to see their idols nude. From the Rodin museum we walked to the d’Orsay. While walking there, I realized my feet were starting to hurt and I was hungry, we both had not eaten since breakfast on the train but I still wanted to try and squeeze in the d’Orsay but started to vocalize my discontent i.e. “My feet hurt. I’m hungry”. After I said this my ex, immediately suggested the first cafe he saw, to which I declined as it looked a bit shabby. When we reached the d’Orsay, it was almost closing time and the museum guards were not letting any new visitors in. We stood around trying to figure out what to do. I suggested we go to a cafe around the d’Orsay but my ex said they would be overpriced. I then starting getting the idea in my mind that I wanted to visit that really good Japanese take-out place I discovered during my last trip to Paris all the way near the Opera house, Palais Garnier. I suggested the option and asked my ex to figure out the best possible way to get there. I no longer remember the subsequent chain of exchanges or how we ended up against my ex’s better judgement about to get on the metro when suddenly I decided to check the metro plan myself and realized that in order to simply get to the other side of the Seine we would have to transfer over 2 to 3 times to reach our stop. When I realized this, I became livid. Why did my ex decide on this route when it was ridiculous to change 2 times for three stations? Why would he think I would agree to this nonsense? I banned him from handling the Paris map or metro plan. I shouted at him for the length of two different bus stops (no one even batted an eye and we never took the bus), along an entire boulevard and down one side street. I can’t even imagine now how I could have had so many things to complain about. My ex’s response was simply that he should have fed me at lunchtime.
In the evening, we went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
I most wanted to see Anish Kapoor’s ‘Leviathan’ at the Grand Palais but because I only wanted to get macaroons from the most famous macaroon shop, Laduree, we spent too much time wondering around St. Germain. By the time we reached the Grand Palais, it was closed and not open the next day, my last day in Paris. All the beauty and romance of Paris couldn’t hide the fact that I didn’t love my ex.