Enough has been said about the charms of travel by trains and many a traveller has waxed eloquently about the delights of journey through Europe by trains. Of course the imaginative mind immediately conjures up images of chance encounters, thrilling adventures and the like, well portrayed in several books and films. Mountain trains add an all new dimension to the experience of a traveller, one that seeks solitude and probably little adventure than to immerse oneself in the journey than the destination. In one such journey over destination preference, I planned on taking the little known “Train des Merveilles” from Nice to a mountain village called Tende in France.
When Hemmingway puffs one of his cuban cigars chatting with Ezra Pound and the silhouette of Scott Fitzgerald scribbling on his notes, appears in the smoke, you are thrown back to an iconic time in bohemian Paris. The Latin Quarter in Paris is my favourite part of the city and a renowned bookstore here has the most claim to fame. Shakespeare and Company is one of the finest english language bookstores and is truly an exceptional little part in the heart of the left bank of the city.
Yes, what is it indeed? It is one city we ‘know’ of a lot more than any other.
Poets have admired its beauty, story tellers have romanticised it to no end and beautiful movies shot at its various locations. Yet, if one were to expect Amelie Poulain’s picture perfect Paris, they are going to be disappointed and yet there is something here for everyone to call Paris his or her very own.Paris awaits discovery on foot and a lot of time. The charm in Paris lies in strolling along the cobbled pathways of the charming Monmartre where the likes of Dali and Monet spent their days producing their great works below the silhouette of the Sacré Coeur.
If the heart asks me where I would want to be again, in a flutter I would answer – Chamonix. The vistas overlooking the Mt Blanc would release the floodgates of artistic excellence of even a pedestrian poet. Such is the grandeur of the Alps that as they traverse through the lengths of Austria and Switzerland and make their way into France, they seem to have run through their crests and troughs, but, just as the proverbial candle flame, they seem to have reserved their best for the last – in the hearts of Chamonix.