It’s been a week since I got back from Paris. Needless to say, I felt depressed the moment we grabbed our bags from our airport. I actually looked at the closed doors, hoping to plead with flight attendants to take me back. While the city is always associated with flirt and passion, I don’t believe you can have an affair with Paris – start and end it over a course of 7 days, not looking back again. On the contrary – I felt like every day I was falling a bit more in love with the city and knew I’d leave full of regrets.
My first contact with Paris was bittersweet. I won’t tell you the same things you’ve heard over and over again: the art, the chicness, the food, the fashion – all in superlative! Instead, I’m going to say I began each day hungry to discover more and end it knowing I’d seen 10% of what I dreamed of (there’s simply no time to see all, not even a whole museum! ).
If New York is the city that never sleeps, Paris is the city where creativity never takes a nap. It overflows from the corners of Louvre, to the pipes of Pompidou or to Versailles Palace&Gardens.
Nature steps in the busiest of squares, taking over in the Tuileries, while statues guard the good, old times from Notre Dame to Place de la Concorde. It’s a mix of old and new, of freshness and nostalgia that touched me.
The Humans of Paris surprised me in the best way possible. If you get too involved with fashion and immediately associate Paris with Dior and Chanel like I did, you kind of expect to see fashion-forward individuals walking out of every Monoprix. The fact is, most Parisians DO dress effortlessly, meaning they rely on comfortable clothes that take them from morning to night. Everyone walks everywhere, sometimes taking their bycicles, rollerskates or scooters for a ride, but rarely a car.
They can be seen at cafes and brasseries first thing in the morning, basking in the sunlight outside the doors, at small round tables with 2 or 3 seats, at the edge of the boulevard (the way I’d wish all my mornings would start!).
Then, they’re back for seafood, red wine or salads at noon – and I mean at 1.30 max – since most restaurants close their kitchens at 2.00 pm (yes, i found that the hard way). So, if you go there, don’t wander around, marvelling from one building to another until 3 o’clock or you’ll be left searching for a good brasserie!
Men in tailored suits with leather briefcases, women with turbans and floral dresses, elders laughing and sharing stories, hipsters tuning out passengers – I’ve seen them all in the metro. Street performers, actresses channeling God-knows what role, kooky grandmas or anxious brides, trumpet singers and students charging up in the sun – they make up Paris.
Their energy, spirit, the way they cast out fears and worries on the bank of Seine or enjoy food in a small anchored boat – that gave me hope that I could bring back a bit of Paris home… or that soon, I’d return to this brand, new love story.