Paris, I find you again, after 15 months of having snubbed you for the Australian beaches… Finally, I find your cobbled streets, your dubious smells and your life.
I get off the plane, and already I recognize you.
Aren’t I supposed to arrive at a gloomy, deserted airport? In the airports in Sydney and Singapore, it was post-apocalyptic atmosphere. In Paris, it’s different.
Of course, the stores are closed, and so are the cafes. But this bustle comes from elsewhere. Passengers follow each other through customs, children cry, some laugh, others rant, and all this little world creates a lively hubbub.
Finished with the sanitized Australia, here I am again on European soil.
At the exit, cabs and Uber alight travelers, I smile. It will be RER for my part.
After a short RER and metro ride, I finally arrived in Paris. The transportation seemed quite empty to me. So is this the Paris under covid?
After the grim suburbs, and the charmless industrial areas, here I am in the heart of the capital.
My suitcase weighs 28 kilos, and my backpack 12, so every staircase is a trial. I gasp, gather my courage, and oh a delicate hand comes to rest on the outer strap.
Three stairs and three rescuers, we weren’t too many two to carry the weight of 15 months on the other side of the world. Who said Parisians weren’t helpful?
Finally, I get out of the subway, the weather is mixed, but a wisp of blue sky honors me with its presence. I walk with my eyes in the air. Hausmannian buildings loom over the avenues. It’s beautiful.
I would only spend three days and two nights there. Carole’s apartment that welcomes me is large and bright, a true Hausmannian apartment. The charm of the old, in a purified and modern decoration, I feel good there .
Walk along the Seine
I take advantage of the sun’s rays to stroll along the Seine. The river meanders through the middle of Paris, it is almost a monument to it.
I have always loved strolling along the Berges de Seine, walkers and sportsmen passing each other without looking at each other. Sheltered from the traffic, thoughts fly away and the heart becomes lighter.
This walk is a bit of a monument walk: Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Petit and Grand Palais, Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame… They follow each other at the rhythm of my steps, and my pupils are delighted to find them.
But Paris is not only its monuments and beautiful avenues.
On my second day, the terraces reopen, life returns. It is the effervescence. From the first hours of the morning, Parisians rush to drink a coffee on the terrace.
Paris is becoming Paris again, and I’m coming back!
If the first terrace with my friends is a failure, a beer in two hours, as much to say that the service was rather slow! I take advantage of my successive returns, to enjoy it well.
After Australia, Paris prices don’t seem that excessive to me.
I had missed meeting my friends over drinks in a bar. My old life splashed across my memory, and I would almost want to go back.
The one who welcomes me the following times is Clem. While Carole lives in a cosy, family-oriented and chic district of Paris. Clem lives in the up-and-coming neighborhood, more popular, but more lively.
Jaurès. Here, everyone crosses paths. The little trendy Parisian girls like Clem, the students, the bobos, the proles but also the drug addicts…
However, it does represent Paris, this neighborhood, and what I love here too.
It’s a little less beautiful, and you have to move a little further towards the Canal Saint Martin to find the more classic and chic architecture.
But there is an incredible life here. Bars, cinemas, people are everywhere, small bottle and picnic near the Canal. We debate, we laugh, we play petanque or Mölky, in short we live here!
Paris, the metaphor for life.
Paris for me is a bit like life.
The sun doesn’t always shine there, but when it does, you forget all about the rainy days.
We meet beautiful people, ugly people, smiles, sad and closed faces. Often, we live cramped, small apartments, crowded subway, offices leaning against each other.
Paris is beautiful, but Paris is ugly too. We proudly expose our monuments, and our beautiful avenues to the whole world, and we try to camouflage the less shining districts of the capital. As we would do with our unacknowledged flaws, our wounds and our hidden vices.
However, the lover of Paris, the real one, will learn to love the less bright alleys, the pungent-smelling passages, the less clean but more popular squares.
In Paris, the rich cross paths with the poor, the young cross paths with the old, the women cross paths with the men, the white cross paths with the less pale. There are sometimes tensions, shouting matches, bird names that tear the Parisian sky. But in the end, the cohabitation is there, invisible, peaceful. Because if they don’t all love the same Paris, they all love a part of it.
Paris is all about the intoxicating smells of bakeries and rotisseries, but also the unpleasant smell of urine in the subway corridors. Between the grand perfume and the smell of excrement, the capital oscillates between fascination and disgust.
What is certain is that it does not leave one indifferent.
Paris, I’ll be back
In a few days, Paris convinced me. Yes, I would come back. Yes, if I have to settle down, this is where I would do it.
I have a myriad of friends there, from high school to my previous job to my improv group. I love their differences, their identities, and their friendships.
Each one in their own way brings me a little something that makes my life softer and sweeter.
To be honest, what I do in Paris, I could do elsewhere. Going out, having drinks, doing improv, playing sports or walking, it’s possible in Lyon, Bordeaux or Nantes. Except that Paris has this fearless, stressful, tireless and insatiable soul that fits my personality today.
Our souls are linked, so Paris I will return!