Disney. Who doesn’t love Disney? If you answered ‘me’, slap yourself and stop reading. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of the first animations I can recall watching, and, to this day, it remains a childhood favourite. I remember being captivated by the magic of its setting. Through the wonderful conjuring of Parisian landscape by the Disney animation team, my image of this beautiful city, from an early age, had centred around the Notre-Dame de Paris.
I decided, after four days of living here, it was probably time to do some sight stops. Top of the list being, for me, the Notre-Dame. The venture into the 4th arrondissement struck me with the first sense of being a ‘tourist’ since my arrival. Whilst the museums of the 3rd arrondissement had begun to satiate the artistic appetite, it was actually very much enjoyable to just do a spot of sightseeing, with no real aim other than to immerse myself in the immaculate architecture.
The walk from Canal Saint-Martin, the place I fondly call my home now, led me on a tour of total allure.
A view from the bridge (a nod to the playwright, Arthur Miller, which will become clear by the end of the post) presented a sight of the River Seine, upon which I could cast my gaze forevermore. This was the moment it truly clicked as to why this city becomes an elegant abode to over thirty million tourists on a yearly basis; why Paris Eiffel towers above any other tourist destination in the world. Yes, I did just say ‘Eiffel towers’.
The serenity of the Seine, and the quaint, cobbled streets of the 4th arrondissement eventually gave way to the grandeur of a building so beautiful I actually felt humbled to be in its presence; the Notre-Dame is, without a doubt, the most jaw-dropping work of architecture I have ever set my eyes upon. There was me thinking the York Minster was the perfect blend of striking, Gothic artistry and visual sophistication. I was mistaken. Maybe it is my childhood bias coming into play here, but I think I’m going to struggle to find a structure anywhere else in the world that appeals to me in the way the Notre-Dame did. In an instant, I was hypnotised, and found myself struggling to walk away.
A solid forty-two photos later, just to capture it in its incomprehensible beauty as best I could, I left to visit a special place that, as a student of literature, I had been longing to visit for years; Shakespeare & Company. I had heard fairytales of this antiquarian bookshop, which resides only a minute’s walk from the Notre-Dame.
Never before have I had to queue for a bookshop, but my word, was it worth it. A charming collection of the old and new, my inner-bookworm was salivating from the moment I stepped inside. Winding my way through the stacks and shelves of threadbare printings, and leather-bound editions of my favourite novels, I felt as though I could spend months in this place, which, though relatively small, showcased stories a-plenty for lifetimes worth of literary indulgence.
I want to own a bookshop like this.
(Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the shop, so you’ll have to settle for its exterior):