My trip to Paris is drawing to a close and I’ve been reflecting on my favorite moments during the trip. If you are a traveler, you know what I mean — those moments when things crystallize and, in a strange way, the travel experience is reduced to its essence.
There have been many such moments on this trip, but one of my favorites occurred during a visit to the Ile de la Cite when Richard and I sat for a bit on a bench in the Square Jean XXIII, a small park directly behind the Notre Dame Cathedral. It is a green, peaceful location, and we found it on a bright, sunny morning. It was out of the tourist mainstream and a perfect contrast to the hurly-burly of the Louvre and some of the other, more crowded tourist destinations.
At the center of the square is a small statue, in the gothic style, and formal garden beds. They are surrounded by rows of trees that provide wonderful deep shade on a sunny day for the benches underneath. This quiet, shady spot allowed us to revel in the coolness as we admired the sun-baked statue and gardens and, in particular, the massive yet graceful hulk of Notre Dame looming behind, with its swooping flying buttresses. I sat there, somewhat dazzled by the scene, and was immensely happy that Richard and I could enjoy that moment.