Incredibly, Paris is now my home town. As an expat I share it with the natives and the millions of tourists making the pilgrimage every year. The population density is incredible and in the height of summer there is not one peaceful spot to be found in the entire city. This is infuriating at best, but then, who am I to complain? I should not be here, either: I was not born here, never a Francophile, don’t even speak French.
Paris takes some getting used to. It’s undoubtedly a beautiful city, probably the most beautiful of all. We have Haussmann to thank for the ordered beige boulevards and the ornate buildings, the tree-lined streets and the uniform charm. On a sunny day walking the streets of Paris is a sensual experience.
There are some bad things about the city, and visiting and living here are totally different things. The view of the rooftops from my apartment is unbeatable. The size of the apartment is laughable! The metro is fast and efficient but clean, it is not. And no foreign resident will ever look at a dog with quite the love they used to have for the animal prior to living in this city. But then, no city is perfect, no place with more than a handful of inhabitants is pristine, and no other city stirs quite as much a love-hate relationship with its residents as Paris. A colleague asked me the other day how I feel about Paris after one year here. I gave him a response that I reserve for later posts, but let me tell you what I love about Paris:
- Classical music sounds better in Paris
- Callas used to live around the corner from my place
- I can walk to Trocadero and look at the Eiffel Tour when I feel lazy and don’t want to venture far at the week-end
- Arthur Rubinstein’s biography mentions his first Paris apartment 5 buildings away from my temporary accommodations when I first moved here
- Avenue Georges Mandel – anytime, in any weather
- The gardens at Musee Rodin
- The view of the rooftops at breakfast time: just like in the Aristocats