In her little flat in the Opera district of Paris, I hug my daughter and looking around, take in this tiny but oh so Parisian space. In the living room, a long window looks out across the narrow street at a similar architecturally beautiful building opposite, mirroring the ornate wrought iron work adorning the façade of Katie's apartment. The floor is of ancient dark wood with a rich sheen from years of polishing. Over an ornate mantle piece hangs a shabby but chic mirror; the mottled spots of age only adding to its allure. Jane and I, quick to absorb the French ambience, 'fait le tour' and inspect the rest of the flat. It doesn't take long. The bedroom adjacent to the living room is about the same size, with two beds and similar French charm, although this time somewhat hidden under the clutter of student life! A tiny kitchen looks down onto a small courtyard below and finally, a minute shower room approached by two steps, completes the tour of this bijou Parisian pied-à-terre.
Over the next few days, Katie shows us the sights of Paris, as we take in the shops on the 'Boulevard Hausmann'. Laughing under the sparkling lights of the 'Galleries la Fayette', we try on designer outfits one can only dream of buying. Later, queueing for hours next to the famous glass pyramid at the 'Louvre', we bathe in the splendour of the old masters, each of us trying unsuccessfully to mimic the famous enigmatic smile of the 'Mona Lisa'. Later on, worn out by walking, we share an espresso at the café 'Les Deux Magots'. Sitting in the same seats once frequented by the most influential writers and philosophers of the 20th century, we discuss Sartre and the meaning of life, until it begins to get dark.
On our way back to the flat later that evening, Katie takes me by the hand and whispers, "Follow me, Mum!", as we disappear down an alleyway off the busy street, closely followed by a curious Jane. Passing by the walls of a huge ornate building we finally turn the corner and step out onto a huge terrace. The view in front of me is something I will never forget, for there, stretched out before us, is the whole of Paris lit up against the night sky. Right in the middle, the 'Eiffel Tower' rises up, announcing the year 2000 in bright iridescent lights. Standing to one side on my own, I look out over the city in wonderment, while welling up inside a feeling of elation fills me with hope for the new millennium, and love for 'la vie française'!