A/N: I am always grateful to purpleC305 for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for beta-ing. Bella and I think you are more amazing than any museum in Paris. Thank you. xx
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m just here having fun.
“Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half.” – Charles de Montesquieu
“Wow, who knew they were so big?”
“They are incredibly impressive.”
“This is just astounding.” Slowly, I spin, taking in the huge murals of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at Musée de l’Orangerie. “I can’t imagine painting something so large. A single room with one color may be my limit and I don’t make any promises with that estimate.”
“Good to know.” He chuckles and takes a seat on a bench nearby.
“I’m serious. I did one of those painting classes with Angela once.”
Edward looks confused.
“You know, where everyone paints essentially the same thing with a teacher guiding you through each step. However, when you finish, all of the canvases look different, but similar,” I explain further.
He nods. “Okay. I’ve never been to one. Did you have fun?”
“Well, the one we attended included wine. So, yes, plenty of fun, but my painting abilities are not enhanced with alcohol. Angela thinks I’m a lost cause.”
“I’m positive you’re exaggerating.” Edward stands, wraps his arm around my waist, then guides me to the stairs.
We continue to the lower level and view other pieces in the museum’s collection. There are works by Picasso, Cézzane, Rousseau, but I favor the paintings by Renoir and find them to be most captivating.
After a couple of hours, Edward and I exit the museum and stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries, passing a weathered version of Rodin’s The Kiss.
Edward smiles. “That was us a few days ago.”
I lean up and give him a quick kiss, then point toward Place de la Concorde. “Let’s check out the fountains.”
We take some selfies then walk closer to view the Luxor Obelisk.
“I can’t believe what is such a peaceful area now, was the main square for executions.” Edward looks around and takes in our surroundings.
“I agree. It’s a little surreal standing where they built the scaffolding and set up the guillotine to carry out so many deaths. The World Wars and the French Revolution affected every part of life here. Nothing has gone untouched. Paris is rich with a living history. It’s overwhelming but amazing we are able to experience and tour what remains.”
He puts his arm around me then pulls me closer. We cuddle together in comfortable silence, taking a moment to absorb our surroundings. Plenty of people move around the area, many with a clear destination in mind. Some are probably tourists like us, taking their time snapping photos for keepsakes of this beautiful city. A slow smile grows on my face as I observe a group of friends full of excitement and happiness. Even from a distance, it’s contagious.
Edward squeezes my hip, bringing me out of my thoughts. “Are you ready for Musée d’Orsay?”
“Sure, let’s go check it out.” I slide my hand in his as we enjoy another beautiful, sunny morning in Paris.
We enter the building and are immediately fascinated by the building’s architecture, as it has been converted from a train station to an art museum. The structure and windows could be an exhibit all their own. However, the collection at Musée d’Orsay is mind-blowing. There are so many paintings from such well-known artists. Every corner we turn is like finding a new treasure.
I’m giddy when we see Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, but my new love for Renoir deepens when I view Bal du moulin de la Galette, Montemarte. The way he paints groups of people is amazing, leaving me completely captivated by the light and details. I wish we had more time to explore the Montemarte neighborhood, but unfortunately, we are reaching our limits for this vacation.
“How about a stop at the gift shop?” Edward offers.
I grin. “Absolutely.”
I don’t think there’s a museum or gift shop I haven’t loved, and this one is equally rich with items I know I don’t want to leave behind. I end up choosing a set of cork coasters with Monet’s Water Lilies, a Rubik’s cube with six of Van Gogh’s works on each side, a map of Paris tote bag, a Renoir calendar, and the most adorable music box that fits in my palm with Renoir images on the outside. However, when I turn the crank it plays La Vie en Rose, a song Édith Piaf was credited with writing and performing during her life in Paris. We viewed her tombstone on our trip to Père Lachaise Cemetery.
“All set?” Edward asks, reaching out to carry my bag.
“Yes, I’m thrilled to bring so many reminders of our trip back home with us. I don’t want to ever forget this time in Paris.”
Edward finds my hand, giving it a squeeze. “Do you want to grab a quick bite to eat?”
“Yes, and I know the perfect place. It’s just across the Jardin des Tuileries.”
“Okay, lead the way.”
He probably thinks we’re going to Ladurée, but I want to try another place, Angelina.
Since we arrive a little before the lunchtime rush, we are seated immediately, and look over the menu.
“Well, now. I’m not surprised this would be a Bella-approved destination. It has everything you desire in a restaurant,” he teases, spotting the sweets and champagne selections.
“Hey, there are sandwiches and salads on there too,” I point out.
Edward nods. “I think I’ll get the croque monsieur with mesclun salad.”
“Wow, you’re quick to decide. I’m not sure what to order.” I pause to peruse my options. “I really think I should get quiche, since I haven’t had any while here, but then there is the truffle ravioli, which sounds divine.”
“What? No sugar or alcohol? I’m shocked,” he jokes.
I giggle. “Well, I was thinking about ordering the hot chocolate if I got the quiche. I read it is an experience not to be missed, very thick and rich.”
“Now, that sounds better. Don’t fill up too much, after lunch you’re on my agenda, and I have some French classics I’m sure you don’t want to miss.”
“Hmmm, that sounds intriguing, Monsieur.”
“Don’t you mean, Monsieur Parfait?” He winks.
My face still flushes over the fact he knows my nickname for him. Fortunately, our server shows up and I welcome the interruption. I end up going with the quiche and hot chocolate, which I’m excited to try.
However, Edward stops our server’s departure. “And could we add the truffle ravioli as well?”
“Certainly, Monsieur. Anything else?”
He looks over at me. “No, that’s all for now. Merci.”
I raise an eyebrow in his direction, waiting for him to explain.
Edward shrugs and smiles. “After you mentioned it, I figure, why not? It sounds good and we can share.”
“So, are you going to give me a hint what we are doing this afternoon?” I try to move our conversation in a new direction.
“Not a chance. You will have to trust me.”
My hot chocolate is the first item to arrive and it is similar to a thick chocolate cake batter as I pour it into my cup. My first sip is warm, rich, and decadent, which tastes heavenly on my tongue. We learned yesterday while at the Palace of Versailles, this is how Marie-Antoinette drank her hot chocolate, and quite honestly, it makes me feel like a queen.
“Mmmm, Edward, you should really taste this. It’s delicious.”
I feel his hand on the back of my head as he guides my head to him, his lips softly connecting with mine.
He pulls away, licking his lips, eyes twinkling with mischief. “You’re right. It is delicious.”
I can’t take my eyes off him when our server arrives, setting plates about our small table.
Unexpectedly, Edward’s hand finds my knee under the table and he gives it a squeeze to break me out of my daze.
“Merci,” I whisper.
Edward’s hand doesn’t leave my knee, and focusing on my food is difficult when his hand rubs the inside of my leg. He keeps his hand in place through our meal, as we share bites of the incredibly rich, delicious food. We are both pleased with all of our selections, but I fill up quickly, while Edward finishes everything.
“I’m stuffed.” I let out a long sigh and lean back, rubbing my stomach. “I’m not sure what you have planned after this, but a good long walk would probably be best for me at this point, otherwise I could fall asleep.”
“Oh, I won’t let that happen. Our afternoon fun is not far, but about a forty-minute walk away. What do you think? Are you up for it?”
“Sure. I’m ready, but I want to buy some hot chocolate powder on my way out, so I can drink like a queen when we’re back home.”
Edward settles our bill, and soon we are walking hand in hand, at a leisurely pace, past all of my favorite spots we’ve visited while in Paris. From Angelina, we walk past the Jardin des Tuileries then make our way to the Seine by cutting through the front courtyard of the Louvre. We cross the Seine at the Pont des Arts, where the original lovelocks no longer gather, but now we pause and enjoy the beautiful views in both directions. Once we finally cross the river, we continue along the Seine and take in the beauty of Île de la Cité from a distance, where we visited the Conciergerie, Sainte Chapelle, and Notre Dame. Wandering the narrow cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter, I think back to our fun shopping in the quaint area, including my favorite Shakespeare and Company and trying fondue for the first time. I try to imagine what it would actually be like to live here, as did so many writers, artists, and dreamers who fell in love with Paris as I have. However, I know it isn’t possible with our lives waiting for us back in Seattle.
We continue through various neighborhoods, until Edward finally stops in front of a building with traditional Parisian style, in colors of white and beige with delicate ironwork in front of various windows and balconies.
I read the words above the door. “Le Foodist. Discovering Culture Through Food.” I look over to find Edward watching me.
“Um, Edward. I don’t think I can eat another bite.” I chuckle uncomfortably and a bit confused.
“Sweetheart, this isn’t about eating. This is about having one last memorable experience with you. Something special, just for you.” He kisses the side of my head. “Let’s go inside.”