C’était un coup de foudre – it was love at first sight.
‘The city of lights’, ‘the city of Romance’, ‘the culinary capital of the world’ – all these are names Paris is known by.
Inviting sidewalk cafes, gleaming boutiques, world-class museums, and a fabled restaurant scene make Paris the runway model of cities – beautiful, fashionable, confident, and inspiring intricate detail and envy at every turn.
After being told my entire life that Paris is the most romantic city in the world and after having my fascination with the French capital roused all over again by two great films – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It would be hard to say that Paris surprised me, when you consider how many images of the city have been etched in our imagination.
I was taken back by the scale of beauty of this grand palace and its extraordinary grounds. I had visited this palace many times before in my imagination, but I was still overwhelmed by experiencing it in reality.
Here, and everywhere else I went in Paris, I found myself confronting the degree to which elements drawn from stories – history, mythology, literature, scripture – were dispersed across every surface. In many of the rooms in Versailles, one can stand and look up into paintings intended to evoke the heavens .
There’s eye candy as far as the eye can see, and I’m not only referring to the city’s roof tops. Look at the buildings’ façades, windows, balconies, and wander into small passages. Invariably you’ll find a garden or something you weren’t expecting – like a bicycle circa 1955, still in working order.
The world is my oyster – you can be exposed to other cultures by simply getting on the Metro. India, China, the Middle East, anywhere – Paris is anything but a homogeneous city.
“For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world – impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define.”
– Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays
Vive la Différence
Once you’re in Paris, the concept of flânerie is palpable. It is a city made for wandering. Paris, I’ve learnt, is most rewarding when you simply make it your own – faites ce qui vous rend heureux.
Paris, mon cœur t’appartient.