I’m planning a trip to Paris and I’m quite ridiculously excited about it. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be, although I’m lucky enough to have been a number of times already so you’d think that I might approach this trip with a little more sang froid. Why am I so passionate about Paris?
This is where it gets tricky. What is that indefinable je ne sais quoi that keeps me returning time and again? On the face of it, Paris has many of the
things that make me love London too: iconic monuments, world class art museums (another passion); strolling along the riverbank enjoying panoramic vistas of the city; different neighbourhoods to explore away from the tourist trail; the list is a long one.
Yet if I had one of those truly life-changing lottery wins, would
I think about a little flat in London to keep as a base to drop in and out
of? Quite possibly. Would I have a pied-a-terre in Paris? Most definitely.
Setting aside all the clichés, Paris is still a feast for the senses, some obvious, some less so. One of my favourite aural experiences is the sound of the siren on the metro which indicates that the doors are closing. I wonder if it’s available as a ringtone?
That Paris is a city steeped in romance, glamour and culture
is without question. Even though the smoke-filled bars have long since succumbed to legislation, there’s always a sense that the ghosts of late philosophers, poets and artists linger, tapping into my own passion for the Arts. Those who made it home (however briefly) are a roll-call for many different areas of creativity: Hemingway, Picasso, the Beat poets, Jim
Morrison, Sartre and de Beauvoir, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir and so many more who leave a vibrant legacy for today.
But it’s so much more than that. Paris (and the Parisians) can seem haughty
and aloof, but the city also knows how to do fun: Paris Plage in the summer, (where the authorities create a beach along a 2-mile stretch of the Seine)
in-line roller skating around the city on a Friday night, some funky bars in
the medieval lanes of the Marais, cafe culture; and much more. My passion for Paris was undimmed even when it was a struggle to find decent vegetarian food; now that at last vegetarianism is becoming accepted a new dimension is added to my explorations.
As I step from the train at Gare du Nord there will be at once an old familiarity as though greeting a long lost friend. Coupled with that will be the thrill of
anticipation at discovering something or somewhere new. After countless visits I’ve yet to discover exactly what it is that makes me adore Paris, so I’ll just have to keep on returning.