Welcoming the new year, Paris style

January 6, 2013 |  by  |  Travel writing  |  , , , ,

“…Trois, deux, un…”

Above, the Eiffel Tower bursts into dazzling sparkles. The stroke of midnight officially welcomes 2013. For every 20,000 glittering lights, a rain-soaked onlooker along the Champ de Mars shouts, “Bonne année!”

“Happy new year!” I throw my English version to the deafening roar, as my husband sweeps in for the customary kiss.

We expect screeching fireworks to frame the famous tower, as we’ve seen on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” every year on TV. Mother Nature, however, had her own plans for Paris and 2013, delivering chilled rain and sweeping winter winds.

Rather than city-sponsored fireworks, the wet crowd has come prepared to launch their own. Bursts of color sprout throughout the masses, and a war zone of celebration erupts.

“Watch out!” my husband calls as a piercing sound ignites a firework only feet behind us. We laugh and kiss again, delighted with the scene around us: New Year’s in Paris.

***

Now and then, life grants us feel-alive, movie moments. Scenes we’ll never forget. You know, those choice experiences we’d first revisit should we be lucky enough to find a time machine.

I was recently granted such moments in Paris.

As a lover of words, I could see, hear, and taste why Paris attracts the world’s renowned writers and artists.

Quoted in the movie “Midnight in Paris” (which we watched AT midnight IN Paris on Dec. 30), “How’s anyone ever going to come up with a book or a painting or a symphony or a sculpture that can compete with a great city? You can’t. You look around, every street, every boulevard is its own special art form. And when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights(…)for all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.”

Indeed, the City of Light glistens.

Since returning, I’ve struggled deciding how to capture my time in Paris, seeking to save you from a typical travelogue, while promoting writing. I came to this: Literary travel is travel at its best.

No matter how mesmerizing, visiting a special place can always be enhanced by writing, which converges time and space. Between hanging out with Mona Lisa at the Louvre, attending Sunday Mass at Notre Dame, and pontificating pop art in the Pompidou, my husband and I digested Jennifer Lee’s “Paris in Mind.” Her anthology offers passages from American writers inspired by Paris’ beauty, from Mark Twain to Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway to David Sedaris. On our walks, we saw the city simultaneously through their writerly eyes and our own.

Writing heightens the experience of travel, while travel inspires worthwhile writing. Are you a literary traveler too?

Bonne année to you and yours. Welcome, 2013.


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