A French Affair

I will never forget my visit to Paris this summer. After having a fantastic week in Switzerland, we were all excited to explore this cosmopolitan capital city of France. From a week in Mountains and lakes, coming to Boulevards and Bridges, I personally quite liked the contrasting characteristics of Switzerland and Paris. While the former takes your breath away with its peaceful nature, Paris sets your adrenaline high the moment you get on your feet.

“Dear, It’s afternoon…I think you should tone down your Make-up”,  a rather quick comment come from my husband.

“No way, after all we are in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, itna make up to banta hai“, I smirked. I am sure Da Vinci had said something similar to Mona Lisa, hence the smirk/smile.

Trust me, no matter how expensive dress you wear or what kind of make up you put on, you can not match up with the fashionable crowd in Paris. It was June and the weather was sunny and unusually hot. I literally had to wash my face before reaching Eiffel Tower or the pics would had come out to the likes of an advertisement of a lost lady.

“I told you so”, comes another quick comment from hubby dear.

“Whatever”, I frowned.

Paris they say, is the city of Romance. Adventure, Architecture and Culture too. Though me and husband were all in for the adventure, architecture and culture minus romance!! The mood was salvaged by the positive bright vibes of the day outside. The streets in Paris are always springing with life. Multiple cafes with extended chairs and tables on the pavements with street artists at every nook and corner are playing or performing for your attention. The city is home to the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, L’Oréal, Clarins, etc. If Mona Lisa went shopping here at Champs Elysees, there would had been no mystery left behind her smile as she would had not been smiling but grinning from ear to ear adorning at least five bags of her favorite cosmetics.

Surrounding the banks of the Seine River, Paris has a way of romancing visitors with its elegant beauty and magical ambience. Monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame,  Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chapelle grace the city and make it incomparable world wide. We completely enjoyed walking  up and down on The Champs Elysees, which by the way is pronounced nothing as it is read. Sitting at the high point in Paris, the Basilique Sacré-Coeur has a special aura. The Esplanade that leads up to the church is a popular area for people to hang out and is often graced by very talented street musicians. The Bohemian spirit of Montmartre is still found in its charming squares and cobblestone streets. Many wonderful artists at the square make lifelike portraits with  impeccable art. We had our kids sketched by one of the gentleman.

After couple of days in this lovely city, while walking on Pont Alexandre III, Paris’s most elegant and grand bridge, we finally decided to visit Louvre Museum and find out the mystery behind the smile of Mona Lisa ourselves. The large crowds outside the museum confirmed that no one goes back from Paris without a visit to the Louvre. Its huge and surely would had taken few weeks if we wanted to see all of it. Our target was set, we wanted to see the wing which houses the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The line for the ticket was huge and the heat haze had set our temperatures high. The conflict of whether to take audio guide or not, pushed the tempers to one more degree. Adding to the woes, my younger daughter managed to set the language of the audio to French. Clueless of the directions, bickering over everything, we stumbled upon some great work of Art….sculptures like The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus De Milo, Dying Slave, paintings like Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, The Coronation of Napoleon…. You name it, they have it. Louvre impressed me highly with a collection that spans work from ancient civilizations to the mid-19th century.

The arrow pointed- first floor for Mona Lisa. I wanted to rush immediately while my husband was more interested in photographing the sculpture of ‘The Dying Slave’ by Michelangelo. Leaving him to cover naked man, I scooted towards Room No 6. to see Mona Lisa. The portrait hangs behind bulletproof glass and there were thousands of jostling spectators. It is the most famous painting in the world, and yet, when I saw her up close, I was baffled by the small subdued portrait of an ordinary woman. Neither her clothing is remarkable nor the surroundings. So what is it that makes the painting historical!

When I looked at her mouth, she wasn’t smiling as much as when I looked at her eyes. I feel that the magic of Mona Lisa’s painting is that it seems to react to our gaze. You question what is she thinking! She smiles back mysteriously. I looked again ….her smile seemed to flicker. I glanced away, and the enigmatic smile lingered in my mind. In no other painting  have I ever seen such motions and emotions intertwined.

As I was getting caught up in the mysterious smile of Mona Lisa, my husband called out for me. I turned and saw him clicking a pic of me. I smiled for a moment and than immediately hardened my face. My husband’s face drooped more.

It was our last night in Paris. We had heard that there is a light show at Eiffel on strike of every hour after 10 PM.  Light drizzle had made the weather pleasant. We found a great spot at Trocadero and settled for a while. “Smile now dear!” my husband said. I made faces and started going through the photographs he had clicked earlier at Louvre in our camera. Each and every one were exceptional, capturing details of  the displayed artifacts. But the painting of Mona Lisa was blurred, and the focus was on me!


It was time…The lights of the Eiffel Tower sparkled through the misty rain. He placed his hands on my shoulders and I softened. After all we had promised to embrace each other’s passions and peeves  during our Saat Pheras. Kids were running around enjoying the magical moments of glitzy sight. I am sure a cupid was at a constant vigil in the Paris skyline that night. Let me re-emphasize, Paris is the city of Adventure, Architecture, Culture and Romance too.

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