For very strong reasons that are my own, i love the banks of the Seine on an autumn night, the bateaux-mouche gliding past the reflections of Ile Saint-Louis in the water, their bright spotlights disrupted by falling leaves.
I love the slopes of Montmartre, the view from the Sacré Coeur with a storm breeze clearing the november skies over the blurry skyline, lit by the two million people living and working within those walls. Yes, i even love those cardboard circles they serve up there as pancakes, in the streets of a quarter that’s the hyperbolic depiction of the city that surrounds it.
For those same reasons i love the characteristic whistling crescendo sound of metro line 1 leaving a station, the chaos of Rue Montorgueil and Châtelet on saturdays and the quiet sounds of Montsouris on an afternoon in spring, when the magnolias of the parc blossom and invite for a picknick on the slopes of the lake. I love the smell of the Treizième in February, the look of Tuileries in March, St-Michel in May and Rivoli in June on a summer evening.
It’s a city filled with clichés about love, history and romance, and you will find those on every street corner. Hey, even Père Lachaise Cemetery has its very own (tragic) love story with Héloise and Abélard. People come to Paris for various reasons. To find architecture, to find art or a piece of recent or not so recent history. But most of all, people come to Paris to find those very clichés…certain they will discover or rediscover love, following rumours that some of the romance of the city will follow them when they leave… rumours of course…but to tell you the truth…
Most of them are true…
My sweetest memories lie there, among the busy streets of Bastille, on the benches of Montsouris, Tuileries and Buttes-Chaumont. On the pigeon-filled boulevards, in the macaron shops, the metropolitain and the RER. On the slope in front of Beaubourg in the sun.
Paris is a memory palace. A city that builds layer after layer of complexity and gets filled with thoughts and memories at each visit. It stores the moments you experience in it, as you store them in your mind. Everyone builds a personal Paris, a vision of the city as you have lived it, as you live it and as you will live it. It’s a microcosm, a blend of worlds..but most of all it’s the kind of place you never leave, a place that keeps a part of you captive and spreads it through its streets, so you will need eternity to rediscover it, again and again.