Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Winter shaking strategies: a view on Paris from above

"Il pleut!" (It's raining) says Milo every morning, even though in the last few days the sunshine has finally conceded itself, after an eternity of cloudy and grey skies. It is still freezing cold, I guess that's what Milo means. We are all bummed and smitten by this everlasting winter. Running noses, frozen thoughts, contracted muscles...

Today I was determined to shake the winter off! When I used to live in Rome, there were many spots I loved to climb to from which one could enjoy a mesmerizing view of the Eternal city. Paris is quite flat and, apart from the Eiffel Tower, the Tour de Montparnasse and Montmartre, there aren't many places offering a view. I found a special one right by my office: at lunch time I went on a balloon trip, raising at 150 mt high (the Eiffel tower is 324 mt or 1058 ft tall). I enjoyed a breathtaking 360° aerial view of Paris from the south west. The air was still uncozily cold, but the view gave it all another dimension. Seeing the earth from up above should be mandatory for everyone, at least once in a lifetime. It is such a humbling and inebriating experience. We are concretely reminded of how infinitesimally small we are, and in a place like this, that we are surrounded by so much life and diversity.

I spotted a typically French protest in front of the France Television headquarters, the national broadcaster; I admired the green muddy Seine waters, lulling a few commercial boats used to transport building material along the quais; the cupola of Les Invalides (Napoleon's burying site) was shining at a distance; La Defense, the modern high-rises financial district, emerged behind the Bois de Boulogne, amistd a hazinesss probably due to the pollution. I felt like being back in Paris again, even though I've been here for the last few months non-stop (...stranded in the office or at the apartment).

The balloon ride was short and smooth; the ascension proceeds at 1 meter per second and it feels in reality much slower, as the panorama unveils beneath our eyes.
I asked the "pilot" if there was a minimal age for kids, and there isn't. He said that often the small ones are disappointed because the balloon ascends and descends vertically and does not move around enough! I will have to take Milo on a warmer and sunny day later this spring, and see if it is true...


Alice in Austria said...

Is that a recent picture of Paris? If so, I see it's quite green already over there and spring seems to be in full bloom (or at least about to?) - can't say that for here - we are still in the middle of an ice age :(

Lilian said...

Oh, *how* lovely! I want to go back to Paris so badly! I got to visit it for a whole week (well, actually 6 days) back in the summer of 2000. We stayed at the great campground they have at the Bois de Bologne and got to visit almost everything in our list.

I totally agree with you about seeing the world from up high. I have never been up in a ballon, though, but in every city I go to I try to either go up in the tallest building or a hill the oversees the city (like in Firenze). I haven't been up in any tall buildings in Rome, though, you'll have to let me know about that someday.

After the twin towers fell, of course I was devastated (particularly because I loved them to pieces, always taking endless pictures and being out of breath when we drove in the New Jersey turnpike and wecould see their outline from far away), but I was thankful that I had been up there twice, once in the outdoor viewing "terrace" way at the top.

giovanni said...

Back in Paris... thanks to distance! Any relationship between being pregnant and balloon riding? Not yet, I guess. Flying together with Milo you will like it even more. That's one of the nice things of having kids: sharing joy. Being together in (under) the balloon it will be closeness and distance at the same time.
Un abbraccio

Eddie Lin said...

A very inspiring piece. J'heart Paris! Get out of the office and the apartment more often, girl!!!

Helene said...

Just a liitle hello from Australia. I remember Paris and its never ending grey days and so short summer I could hardly wear my open shoes! Gabrielle is now 25 months and my husband is away for 4 months. It is hard for both of us but her french has progressed so much! It is funny to see her look for her words and coming up with mixes "papifly" for butterfly or papillon. It always remind me that it is really a huge memory excercice for her. I was delighted this morning to see that her childcare carers have put little cards with french words, their english translation and phonetics all over the walls. Body parts next to the change table, toy names next to the play area etc...I am also expecting a baby for September. All the worries are gone that Gabrielle wouldnt pick up on french, now we are really having fun! I teach her words like "zappe" and when watching TV she says "zappe maman"..very cute. She is also starting to ask me "un ou une bus", I dont really know when she realised that objects had a gender in french!
Thank you for all your postings, very interesting as usual and keep positive, spring is almost there!
Speak soon

Clo said...

Alice, unfortunately it is not a real time picture: Paris is still very dry, no green leaves yet :( chilly but sunny at least, since few days.

Lilian, thanks for sharing! I read an article that they are working on a skywalk project in the Grand Canyon and that will be the TALLEST ever viewing sight in the world!

Giovanni, your poetry is always intense! As per the preganancy, I am not too balloonish yet!

Eddie, it was too cold to get out!

Helelne, thanks for keeping on reading and for the update on Gabrielle's development! She sounds like a clever girl and I'm sure her French and English will spur flawlessly! (It also seems you found a very collaborative child care, how wonderful!). Congratulations on your second one, I am pregnant too and due in July! Let me know how it goes