Yes, what is it indeed? It is one city we ‘know’ of a lot more than any other.
Poets have admired its beauty, story tellers have romanticised it to no end and beautiful movies shot at its various locations. Yet, if one were to expect Amelie Poulain’s picture perfect Paris, they are going to be disappointed and yet there is something here for everyone to call Paris his or her very own.Paris awaits discovery on foot and a lot of time. The charm in Paris lies in strolling along the cobbled pathways of the charming Monmartre where the likes of Dali and Monet spent their days producing their great works below the silhouette of the Sacré Coeur.
It of course is no longer a center that attracts the bohemian artists of its time, but is still charming and remains my favourite part of Paris. Oh or the more vibrant Latin quarter of Paris? With its numerous inviting cafes and bookstores offering several predicaments to the intrepid pedestrian to turn left or right until the regal Notre Dame faces him reflecting its chimeral monsters from its spires off the Seine.
Or perhaps the best walk around Paris is simply along the Seine itself. Familiar sights require no introductions. The most iconic of them all, the Eiffel tower did not impress me reminding me of an extremely tall TV tower the first time I saw it; I have never understood what the fuss around it is all about and the droves of tourists don’t help. I must admit that the view from the top is priceless though. The Versailles reminds me a lot of the Schonbrünn palace in Austria. Similar architectural style and three times the crowd! I prefer spending my time walking instead. Walking along the Seine is better than the cruise. It presents several personal moments: friendly encounters and the chance to discover and rediscover yet another ‘favourite’ part of the city.
I have never been a big fan of the cuisine majorly owing to my vegetarianism and I largely restrict myself to the cafes for the intimacy they offer and the utterly delicious pastries and there is nothing more fun than stepping into a random one, striking conversations with the owners and trying out some broken french. Am I an Idiot for not stepping into the Louvre and instead whiling away my time people watching in what is ‘not’ a primarily tourist season? I hope my hero Camus doesn’t think so!
Of course, Paris is not just mystical landmarks and quaint boulangeries. Some of it is shady, some overcrowded and yet a large part remains magical and it is into these depths of the city that require some time and patience. Surely one of my most favourite cities in the world and there’s still so much to see!