‘I’m off to Paris for the weekend.’ Such a romantic statement. Our concept of travel to the historic city; be it for a weekend rendezvous with a loved one, or a week trek to Disney land, is an image that no matter what will hold the stereotypical French stamp.
But what is Paris actually like?
Sat here on the balcony of my hotel on a Monday afternoon, there are innumerable things that I have noticed that both do and do not fulfill the Parisian stereotype.
To begin with, my surroundings.
It is autumn, and the sky is a fading blue. The day has been warm, and the remnants of the sun linger on the slight breeze. A narrow street, with beautiful iron balconied-rooms oppose my spot, one set above a haute couture boutique with oddly painted mannequins in the window, the other, apartments, overhang a grand wooden door. My road stems off the Champs D’Elysees, the busiest road in Paris, meaning a consistent city din greets the ears. The air smells of warm concrete, of autumn days spent greedily in the sun as we wait for winter to descend. A delicious smell, in my opinion. The smell of the city, the smell of falling in love.
The people are what made me sit and write this, on the other hand.
Tall, elegant young women dressed in black. Men with precisely trimmed beards and shinny shoes, and older vintages, robed in jewels and surrounded by the odour of rich perfume and that tinge of vanilla tobacco.
The first woman I noticed going into the apartments opposite, indeed, was a woman of the classic Parisian breed. Well dressed in bright but not obtrusive colours, carrying a shopping bag. The second was also of a Parisian sort, although the giant chocolate Labrador who accompanied her did contradict the steely prototype. However, the third, a man, completely destroyed and buried this classic image, as a jogger. A jogger, I hear you say? Well, yes, and they are not something that can easily be forgotten in this city. Everywhere! Along the Seine, down the roads, across bridges: you name it, and at either about nine in the morning or six thirty at night you will see them in their hoards. So maybe Parisians are a little more human than we tend to believe.
So now, as the evening rush hour begins, I can think of no better way of spending my last evening in the beautiful city than to sit and people watch. There’s a man sat on a balcony directly in my upward eye line, reading. The offices opposite have just closed down, someone is closing the windows. Lights are slowly being lit, tables slowly filled and the city that comes alive at night is shaking off the day in order relish in the hours that they do best. Is it to rash, to rude to say I am in love? In love with the city, as I am sure I am, as it bursts with life around me. If this isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. To be in love with a place is to feel that whatever you look at, whatever meets your eyes, ears, nose, mouth or heart, is something that touches your soul, is something that is part of you. So yes, maybe circumstances and location and a few delicious croissants or two have promoted this, but I have never felt so alive or true in a city as I do here. Surely that means something?
So I shall sit here for a while longer, as people come and go, before returning to home tomorrow. I guess the thing that I love about that is that I know I will return.
Latest posts by Kosi Carter (see all)
- Paris: the city of love, wine, and apparently, joggers - October 14, 2014