11/01/2017

Parisian Life: Hidden Treasures in the City of Light

It’s certainly no secret that Mr. Christie and I enjoy Paris. We especially like going in autumn to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage, strolling the less crowded streets, and stopping to warm ourselves in a cozy sidewalk café.  Our year was filled with intrepid travel,  enjoying destinations in five countries - many storybook perfect; but we always enjoy circling back to Paris and sharing our memorable moments. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

We have made several trips to Paris to revisit and reacquaint ourselves with the city over the years. We enjoy ambling through side streets, ducking in passageways, stopping in a quiet spot to sit, reflect, and admire the beauty of the City of Light, all the while attempting to discover more of its glory. We are the type of visitor who needs a bit more; we aim to look beyond the iconic Eiffel Tower to find an intimate setting that will leave an indelible impression on our hearts. 

Not long ago, at our pied-à-terre in the 8th arrondissement on Rue de Laborde, near Boulevard Haussmann, is where we enjoyed our hidden treasure.  Discreetly tucked away on a quiet street in a quaint garden courtyard – situated just far enough away from tourist-filled streets and crowds. Inside, there was the most inviting bank of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows – with perfect south-facing views of rooftops gardens and Parisian streetscapes. After a busy day of exploring, on foot and metro,  we would enjoy a glass of wine and watch the golden glow of lights flickering on in the neighboring buildings, just as the sun was setting. We felt like we were getting a peek into real Parisian life.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures in the 8th arrondissement and throughout Paris. They range from little niches of solitude, serene retreats, or off-the-beaten track cafés. It sometimes happens serendipitously – moments that take you by complete surprise – moments that simply take your breath away.

It was a typical Paris day for us as we wandered through the streets and alleyways with no map or matter in mind as to what would be next on the itinerary. Suddenly we found ourselves at 46 Boulevard Malesherbes, site of the grand Église Saint-Augustin de Paris (Church of St. Augustine).
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
This grand Haussmann-designed Catholic Church is perched on a quiet secret in Paris; hence it seems to be forgotten by the crowds.

The Église Saint-Augustin Catholic Church can be seen all the way from the Arc de Triomphe– down Avenue de Friedland– and seems to call out like a beacon; “Come on in and savor the moment – enjoy my majestic surroundings.” The red steel spire with its golden cross sits atop the slate blue steel dome – soaring 100m high in the sky. Inside, this Byzantine and Romanesque designed church gives an intimate feel. Neighborhood families quietly come and go, kneeling, praying, lighting candles and elderly women faithfully praying the rosary. They have found their peace and comfort in this local church.

For us, it was drifting along softly and quietly, down the aisles, all the while admiring the stained glass, religious icons, and soaring iron angels…when suddenly, we glanced into the chapel and realize we were about to witness a beautiful, and private baptism! What a glorious moment.

The petit bébé was delicately dressed in his long, white, flowing christening gown, tied with satin ribbons. The priest held him high for everyone to see, all the while offering blessings and prayers to the child and his family in affirmation. Family members snapped photos and basked in the moment.  We glimpsed – and even felt a part of – this family’s private ceremony on this special day.

To us, that is precisely what makes Paris so incredibly special: stumbling upon serendipitous moments that you’ll always treasure. I don’t think I will ever forget how truly magical that day was, and we feel thankful for the memory.

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

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J. Christina