Over the past three years, it was much simpler to depart on another leg of our adventure. Since we didn’t have a house and cars, packing up and going was straightforward … we just repacked our bags and left.
Note that I didn’t say it was easy. Leaving friends and family behind is never easy. Yet, we have never reflected much on what we leave behind, but rather what we are going to … always looking forward, rarely back. Still, …
But, now we have a somewhat permanent home in our former neighborhood, and we filled it with our things that were in storage, and it was comfortable, it was more difficult to leave. That feeling lingered until we rode through Paris to our hotel. The excitement of adventure erased the feelings of leaving, and the familiarity of being in France quickly brought smiles to our faces.
For nostalgia and simplicity sake, we decided to stay in the same hotel we had used when we first visited Paris 15 years ago, the Hotel Minerve. We recalled that it was in a very good location in the Latin Quarter, just a couple of blocks from the Seine, Notre Dame, and many good restaurants. Unfortunately, we would be in Paris less than 20 hours. Though this was by design – we were anxious to get to our destination of Toulouse – Paris always makes you wish you had more time.
Though jet-lagged, we napped briefly before venturing out for a stroll. Many of the streets were familiar, and we made our way to the Seine and walked along the river, past the stalls of the book and print sellers.
We were near the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, and seeing that there was no line we stepped in to visit the 850-year old monument. Massive and soaring, the voluminous interior was bejeweled with the afternoon light illuminating the hundreds of stained-glass windows and the huge rose windows.
After the brief visit we walked on to the other side of the Îsl de la Cité and back along the Seine and onto the Îsl St-Louis and its narrow, cobbled streets and quaint shops before returning to our hotel to prepare for dinner.
We had made reservations at a small restaurant we had discovered and enjoyed 15-years ago that was only two blocks from the hotel. The Petit Pointoise was as charming as it was then, and we had a wonderful meal that from the first bite reminded us, again, of why we love being in France.
Our room, though rather small, was comfortable, quiet, and dark, so despite waking briefly a few times in the night we slept soundly. The alarm was unwelcomed though it was time to get up in order to get to the Montparnasse train station for the next leg of the journey.
The streets were just beginning to come alive as the first pedestrians quickly made their way to their destinations this cold spring morning. We, on the other hand, took a taxi.
The station was busy and rather cold as we waited. The espresso and croissant we ate was fast-food but delicious as we watched the sea of people clad in their warm, black winter-wear stream by with the exception of a young girl dressed in her bright red coat. While nearby a piano, placed there for passing performers, sat quiet until a cleaning woman played a short, impromptu composition with her dust rag.
It wasn’t long before the platform for our train was announced. We easily made our way to the voie (platform), stowed our baggage and found our seats. The journey would take five-and-a- half hours via high-speed train to get to Tolouse, but we had comfortable seats and the spring scenery was beautiful.