human behavior

Oui, Oui, Paris

Posted in Foreign Impressions, Travel by humanb on March 18, 2012

My husband and I went on something of a whirlwind holiday last year.  Over four weeks, we travelled to 10+ cities. This was a new form of travel for me. Whenever I’d travelled before, I’d gone to one place and squatted for at least two months. How else could you come to know a place, its rhythm, the priorities and perspectives of its people?

Well, as it turns out, it doesn’t take all that long to get a sense of a place. And there’s something to be said for first impressions. 

The Itinerary:

Beijing – Paris – Munich – Budapest – Bucharest – Istanbul – Israel (multiple cities) 

I’m neither a tour guide nor an historian, so if you want to understand these cities properly, buy a travel book. Or Google them.  Or better yet – visit them and squat for two months.

These are just some of the images that struck me – that helped to shape my first impressions. I think they speak for themselves.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Paris, France

This may have been my first trip to Paris, but I’m not so silly as to think that there’s anything more I can say or show of it, that hasn’t been said and shown before, and more artfully. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Shadow of the Eiffel Tower over Paris, as seen from at the top of the Eiffel Tower itself

I had been more excited to see Beijing and Bucharest than Paris – expecting the modern French city to be as tired and cliché as the never-flagging praise of it – a caricature of its former glory.

I’m an idiot. Paris is magic.

Especially off the main boulevards…

We stayed at the delightful Hotel Louis II in Saint Germain des Pres (Latin Quarter).

Hotel Louis II, 2 rue Saint Sulpice, Latin Quarter, Paris

The hotel was quintessentially Parisian – tiny but quaint, and with charming views.

As for the food in Paris, nothing I can say would do it justice.  I’ve never been a food enthusiast until Paris, where (away from the tourist traps) I had meals that brought me to near ecstasy.

The food in Paris makes Australian fare seem insipid, and American food, downright synthetic.

And you have to appreciate a restaurant whose table settings include toasters.

Walking the streets of Paris and visiting its multitude of churches is entertainment enough. But I had the good fortune of a cousin who has lived in France for decades. She took us to a tiny dive of a jazz club above a bar, called the Salty Kiss (Le Baiser Salé), where we heard a French Caribbean jazz group perform to an audience almost exclusively French Caribbean itself. The audience’s tendency to sing along made the atmosphere all the more intimate.

There are better views of Paris than those I’ve captured. More often than not, I chose to live in the moment rather than try to steal it away in my Canon. I suggest anyone wanting to see more of this gem of a city visit Paris themselves.

Just make sure you stay in the Latin Quarter.


3 Responses

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  1. Virginia said, on March 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    oh…you’re post made me so nostalgic! I love Paris with a capital L.O.V.E! Beautiful photos and you’re right, Paris is indeed magic!

    • Anonymous said, on March 18, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      I’ve made myself nostalgic too. Let’s both make a promise to return. 😉

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