Monday, July 25, 2011

Paris, Je T'Aime.

I spent the past weekend in Paris, and I did not know if it would live up to the expectations that have taken years to build. But in the 72 hours I spent there, it was everything I thought it would be and more. I fell in love with Paris.

I will be honest here, when we first arrived in Paris via coach and pulled up past the Eiffel Tower, it was sort of anticlimactic. It was a giant gray metal structure, and admist the rain, did not seem like anything special. But at night, with the lights, it was something else.

My favourite moment was perhaps Friday night when my friends and I went to the Eiffel Tower at midnight. We saw it lit up first from the top of the stairs from Palais de Chaillot and it took my breath away.

As we walked closer, and saw it from all angles and watched the light show, I knew it was one of those moments in my life I would always remember.

I think my fascination with French culture started sometime during Grade 12 World History and learning about absolutist monarchies. I did a paper on Louis XIV and learned about the château de Versailles, the grandeur of which, for someone who loves all things shiny and gaudy, further piqued my interest in French history.

In person, it was quite honestly one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. However, we were herded through the castle like sheep, pushed and prodded without any time to stop, observe and appreciate. The crowds were mean and pushy, parents with little kids attempting to run through the ropes and people stopping for pictures in the middle of the display were really bothersome.

We paid the extra fee to go into the gardens as savouring the castle experience was really not possible. This was even more spectacular than the castle if you ask me. I cannot even fathom how someone dreamt up the layout and the design. It was beyond incredible, and much less crowded. The water, the flowers, the view - it was something else.

Perhaps what I am most interested in is the French Revolution. From the Enlightenment to the French Revolution, starting with hope in the spirit of liberty, equality and brotherhood, and ending in terror leading up to the Napoleonic wars - the whole process of transformation, for me, is just about the most intriguing historical event ever. And that's just the beginning. From my many courses in French history, I have learned about art, fashion, food and wine. I have learned about festivals, architecture, music and interior design.

I did not get to go to Bastille, or to any of the museums really. But I did get to eat, and wow, was that an experience! Duck, bagettes, cheeses and wines, chocolates, crepes and pastries - I don't even know what I liked more!

One of my favourite experiences, however came on the last day while I was walking along the water with my friend Taylor, and over the many gorgeous bridges. One has locks all over the railings, and it was just amazing to see how many people had put locks on it with the names of their loved ones. On the river siene, we were in time to enjoy the Paris Plages. I loved it, it was set up with sandy beaches, deckchairs, palm trees and ubiquitous ice cream sellers. It allows city-dwellers and those who cannot afford a beach vacation an opportunity to enjoy a day escape to the sand.

There is so much I have left to see and do in Paris. I wish I could summer there, the way I am doing in London because I do not think even a week would be enough to truly understand and appreciate all that the city has to offer. I really just sampled Paris, and I am so glad I was able to, in particular, enjoy it with some of the other interns who truly made this experience even richer.

This is definitely not a goodbye, in fact, it is just the start. I hope to be back there as I soon as I can afford it. Till we meet again... au revoir Paris, je'taime.

1 comment:

  1. parisian food. yum!!
    your pictures make me so jealous that im stuck in an office