As you gave gathered by now, I left my computer at home out of respect for Michaels wish and I did not want to be distracted form “us” on this trip. So I apologise for keeping everybody in suspense but here is what I wrote from my notebook.
There is something about travelling late on Christmas eve, that makes you feel like you are leaving life behind.
We had a last meal in Bolton town centre but they were closing at 1530h an we knew this was the start of Britain ( well Manchester at least) closing down for anything but the essential services over Christmas..
The last flight out of Manchester was 2100h. The airport also was very, very quiet and the staff were cheery, making the most of having to work on Christmas eve, I suppose. CDG and the RER station were equally deserted, so the journey from plane to central Paris was quick and smooth.
We waved to Father Christmas, travelling in the opposite direction taking Christmas presents to our grandchildren. I always feel sorry for people who have to work overnight in Christmas Eve. I did it for so many years. Now it is just nice to have Christmas off like other people.
We arrive around 2315h. Paris is deserted, it seems so peaceful and calm. The weather is mild and dry. As usual whenever I arrive in Paris I get that Ahhhh! feeling of all the cares and worries being lifted from me if only for a short period
The Christmas trees outside the Pantheon glitter in the reflected Christmas lights all around. Michael being catholic wants to go to midnight mass.
We headed to the nearby beautiful church of St Etienne de Mont for carols and midnight mass and as we walked I slipped my arm through his and marvelled at how Michael had known that Paris makes me feel so relaxed and happy and what a wonderful present this was. (I suppose it wasn’t difficult to work out,he has known me over twenty years!, but maybe I was surprised at the sensitivity of this often grumpy, awkward old man)
Something about sitting in a church listening to a wonderful choir and organ, with people who had bothered to turn up somehow touched my soul. I did not understand the language or the ritual, but that just enabled me to sit in spiritual contemplations and I felt really moved by watching the people around. Well heeled shiny haired Parisians, some in party clothes, fur jackets and silk dresses, some brought new babies and children in pushchairs.
This IS the meaning of Christmas, Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men. Not in a religious sense, but in a political sense. I thought of all the wars and injustice in the world and prayed to any God that was listening to somehow imbibe this feeling of love and goodwill to all the greedy selfish and evil people in the world and also was thankful for all my blessings.
We returned to the Hotel du Pantheon around 0100h. VERY late for us! This small boutique hotel was perfect for a romantic Christmas get away. Decorated in that chntzy French style. We had a balcony overlooking the street , strangely accessed from the bathroom with a wonderful view of Sacre Couer lit up in the hill.
The bedroom was overlooking the centre of the hotel, making it perfectly quiet. The only thing missing was the facility to make a cup of tea, I would have loved to have my late night cuppa, sitting on the balcony looking at an illuminated Montmate and Sacre Couer
So we fell into the very comfortable large bed, the end of a long and exciting day and immediately fell into a cosy, comfy sleep.