Thursday, November 19, 2015

Paris: A Beautiful City, A Resilient People, And a Treasure to Behold...

Usually these blogs are the products of a week or so of starting and stopping and rewriting and revising. We started to write this piece last Wednesday, we were working on it again on Friday when we heard about the attacks in Paris. Over the weekend we discussed whether we should change subjects and avoid the topic for a while. We finally decided against it and decided to celebrate Paris rather than let terrorists distract us from all that makes Paris the city that we all love so much, so this is our tribute to Paris.

Indeed if there was ever a question as to whether Paris would recover or not, the Parisians have an answer. It can be found on the city’s seal, exactly where it’s been since 1358… Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, which means Tossed but not sunk. The City of Lights was tossed last week, but it is far from sunk.

Paris is an extraordinary place. There are museums such as the Louvre, Orsay and Picasso that everyone knows about. At the same time there are somewhat lesser known gems such as Jacquemart-André and the Maison de Victor Hugo that offer their own unique combination of beauty and wonder. Then there are the hidden in plain sight jewels such as the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont and the Cognacq-Jay museum.

Then of course there are the parks and the monuments and the bridges… And it goes on. Paris is a beehive of activity, with things to do everywhere you go, around every corner. Every step you take offers the opportunity to breathe in history… Stand outside the Conciergerie and you can almost imagine the grace Marie Antoinette exhibited as she walked to her fate. Climb the Eiffel Tower and stand in awe as you look down at the work of Napoléon III’s architect, Baron Haussmann, whose renovation of the city transformed Paris from an overcrowded, dangerous and disease ridden nightmare into the majestic work of art on a giant scale with wide boulevards, beautiful parks and a sewer system that saved countless lives. Visit Montmartre or the Sacré Coeur and watch the sun set and the city become a whirlwind of activity with streetlights, shoplights, headlights and of course the shimmering Eiffel Tower.

With nightfall, the city almost becomes a different place all together. Walking up the bustling Champs-Élysées seems like a fantasyland and as you approach the illuminated Arc de Triomphe, you feel a majesty that is hard to imagine during the day. The Moulin Rouge’s Fin de siècle atmosphere comes alive with the night and the left bank’s restaurants and cafés become hubs for wine, conversation, and if you’re lucky, romance. Paris may be the only city in the world where you improve your view when you divert your gaze from the stars…

Paris and its environs offer a myriad of delights that could easily keep one occupied for a lifetime. You could almost spend a lifetime living there and not see everything there is to see. And even if you did, you’d likely want to see it all again.

Thomas Jefferson said: A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life. Indeed he was right. Just walking around Paris is breathtaking, not just going into the museums or monuments or the cathedrals. The city itself is beauty. We hope we captured some of that beauty in the many images below.  There are of course the things you'd expect to see like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but many are simply beautiful façades of buildings, young and old that make up the tapestry that is Paris. At times, we find ourselves so busy, so worried about getting from one place to another, not wanting to miss this or that, that we don’t take the time to look at the beauty all around us in the midst of the journey, even in places where we don’t expect it… like on the sides of buildings! We hope you enjoy.