Monday 5 April 2010
Ana in Paris
Paris really is lovely at this time of year. I spent the Easter weekend in the city, the second time I’ve been in as many weeks. I’ve been so often now that the city might be thought to have lost its capacity to charm, surprise and delight. Not so; even walking down familiar paths is a comfort and a reassurance.
I went this time with my boyfriend, playing out all of the old romantic clichés of young lovers in spring-time Paris, hand-in-hand along the banks of the Seine, lunching in little out of the way restaurants on the left bank, sitting in the chestnut groves of Versailles. It’s a welcoming city; the stones are welcoming, the broad boulevards and the little hidden squares; a city for lovers; a city for dreamers.
The one thing I often do when in the city is to visit the Conciergirie, the old royal castle that was used a prison during the Revolution of 1789, the place where Marie Antoinette lived prior to her execution in October, 1793. It’s possible to see a reconstruction of her cell, a place that fills me with poignant sadness, with thoughts of prisoner 280, as she was known. There is perhaps no figure in history that comes closest to fulfilling my sense of high and tragic romance than the beautiful Austrian princess, the wonderful, incomparable Marie Antoinette. I pass in silent tribute, wearing my blue fleur de lys scarf.