Sous le ciel de Paris … I apologize for making this post sooo long, and je vous remercie if you make it to the end. If you don’t, maybe at least take time to click on some of the links or videos, just to get that delicious Paris feeling.
I don’t know what it is about Paris. I go there every two years, and I discover something new every time, and I kind of miss it in the intervening time. I think I can definitively say that I don’t (any longer) have any kind of Disney-land illusions about the the City of Lights, but even with its flaws, it charms me. I grew up in a medium-sized town in the New Mexico high desert, and never had any idea I’d ever go to Paris.
Everyone says they’d like to go there, and many do. According to Wikipedia, 33.8 million people visited the city in 2017. Many of them end up suffering from the malady known as “Paris Syndrome.” No kidding, this is a real thing, and is really a form of culture shock. It happens to people for whom the dream of Paris is destroyed by the reality that it is an actual city. They are so disillusioned by the fact that Paris is a working city with real big city smells and dirt and problems that they have actual psychiatric symptoms. I guess I get it. It’s like a movie with so much hype that it cannot possibly live up to public expectations, but on a much grander scale.
But then there are the other people. The people like me who are charmed by Paris in spite of and sometimes because of its flaws. I love Paris! I love the people and the streets and the shops and the parks and the buskers and the museums and the fact that each neighborhood is like its own independent and different town. I love that there are bookstores everywhere and the bouquinistes along the Seine. I love that you can literally get anywhere in a half-hour on the Métro. I love that people sit outside drinking coffees in the morning and aperitifs in the evening no matter what time of year it is. I love that there are hidden parks and beautiful buildings with more history than my entire country lurking around just about every corner. I also love love love that there is a pretty darned good boulangerie on almost every block. When I’m not in Paris I get very jealous of Parisians for having this. The song I titled my post after comes from a 1951 movie that I admit I haven’t seen (yet!) Below is my favorite version of the song:
I watched a bit of “food porn” on YouTube last night, and found myself sad and jealous and maybe even a bit angry with one of my favorite YouTubers, “Alex French Guy Cooking.” I felt this way because of this video. Which you should watch, by the way. The part that drove me to tears was the bit at 2:18 where Alex rides his bicycle to a “Classic Boulangerie” in Paris to get the object of said food porn, the ideal croissant. I was jealous because he can do this anytime he wants, c’est normale, c’est comme ça. He then proceeds to measure, quantify, dissect, and then finally, after all that foreplay, he eats the croissant. It’s torture. I am fortunate that in my city we do have one French lady who runs a little bakery/café/ teaching kitchen and she makes a lovely croissant. But it’s a 30-min drive, folks. 30 MINUTES. Not that it isn’t worth it, but if you can’t walk there, somehow it just isn’t the same!
So I am able to forgive Paris for having dirt, and that sometimes it smells like urine, and that you always have to watch your step because the millions of dog owners who live there have never heard of carrying bags to clean up after their dogs. I don’t mind (and even kind of love) that everyone walks against the lights and takes responsibility for themselves if they get hit by one of the cities’ horrendous scooter or motorcycle or car drivers. (I put scooters and motorcycles at the top of that list for a reason, people! I kind of want to hand out bumper stickers in English to a bunch of French motorcycle drivers that say “Hi! I’m an asshat!” but I digress…) As much as I detest cigarette smoke, I forgive Paris (and the rest of France for that matter) for having a lot of smokers. I am so much more tolerant of smokers in Paris than I am of smokers in my own country, and I don’t even know why? (Of course, here there really are places where you aren’t supposed to smoke, and I really hate it when people ignore that.) I forgive Paris for having the same kind of political and social crises as the rest of the known universe, because, well, it’s PARIS.
Sometimes I think that in order to really appreciate a place, it’s almost better if you’re not from there. For instance, I live in Colorado at the foot of a spectacular “fourteener” and I’ll be honest, I don’t look at that mountain every day and fully appreciate how fantastic that is.
The last time we were in Paris, we took a tour with Corey Frye of “A French Frye in Paris” (please click…he’s got so much good stuff on his site!). Corey is an American expat, living in Paris with his French wife. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who knows so much about Paris and he has such a passion for the hidden beauty and history of this city. I think because he isn’t a native Parisien, he sees more in the city than he otherwise would. I will absolutely take another tour there with him if I get the chance. In the meantime, I am enjoying the little videos he posts on FaceBook most Saturdays. So I’ll leave you with this link to his page, and if you want to take a little virtual trip, please check it out! If you are going to Paris soon, consider a tour, I highly recommend it!
À bientôt mes amis, et Vive Paris!
This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s “Just Jot it January.” Please click here to learn the rules and how to participate in the fun!