Voici Paris

In the series Five Photos Five Stories, voici Paris.

 

Although I had been several times to Paris when I was a student in Caen, Normandy, this is not before I moved for good to the French capital that I really discovered the city that is still considered today one of the most beautiful in the world.

I got lost countless times in Paris during the very first weeks I spent there. Later I did it on purpose. Without a car or a bike, I relied on public transportation (metro and bus), occasional taxi, but mostly trusted my feet. I wouldn’t do it another way.

Paris is a city that can only been understood after long walks along its large avenues, popular streets, narrow alleys, and covered passages. For almost ten years I made Paris mine, sometimes hating it for its grey rainy days, sometimes adoring it for its magnificent light, always marveling at its rare beauty.

I missed Paris terribly when I moved to California. Much more, to my shame, than my friends. The reason being that I had very few friends in Paris when I arrived there. Paris became my constant companion.

Like most immigrants I didn’t return to my homeland for several years, due to work, young children and immigration paperwork circumstances.

During these years Paris was perched at the periphery of my mind and vision. I imagined what I would do when I would walk along the cobble streets, how I would feel when the metro would rumble under my feet, what I would drink at the café, what I would eat at the brasserie. Mostly: Would Paris still make my heart beat faster?

The answer is yes. I didn’t have to imagine how I would feel, what I would eat or drink when I returned. I was instantly back to where I belonged. At least for the time of my visit.

Although Paris was still as beautiful as in my dreams, I was also sharply aware that I had changed. Several years abroad had transformed me. My husband and I showed our children a touristic Paris we had never really seen. They loved it and their awesome response was a gift and also the realization that Paris would never be the same. Neither for them nor for us.

One afternoon, we took off, leaving the children to their delighted grandparents. Together we stepped backstage.

In 2000 we did not yet live with sophisticated phones, tucked in our pockets and within immediate reach for a snapshot or a selfie. Also that day we didn’t feel the need to take pictures of a city we knew so well. My husband, a native Parisian, certainly didn’t want to photograph his hometown. Yet he took this one picture.

 Picture 4

 

Place des Victoires is one of the oldest royal plazas in Paris. In its center stands a statue of the King Louis XIV (also called Roi Soleil or Sun King). This is not the original statue that was melted to make canons during the French Revolution.

Neither my husband nor I are royalists. In fact I was proud to live feet away from the Bastille when we met. Really, this setting would have surprised anyone who knew us.

Yet I wasn’t surprised when my husband, in 2000, asked me to stand in the center of the plaza to take a photo.

Years before, at the very beginning of our story, we stopped on the Place des Victoires, on our way to the gorgeous neighborhing covered passages/galleries. Neither one of us knew that we would leave together, only a few years later, for the other side of the Atlantic.

And for now we were at the top of the world.

Like a king and a queen.

 

I’d like to invite Jennifer to this Five Photos Five Stories.  On her blog and in her novels, her Asian-American culture is palpable through her writing.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are simple:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

Comments

  1. This was an incredible and beautiful post Evelyne – loved the ying and yang that life has brought you. Your memories are special ~

  2. What a lovely post – and wonderful photo. I love reading about your times in France. I went to Paris when I was 19. I got lost at night – I didn’t even know the name of the hotel where we were staying. I was on a student budget – we ate apples, cheese and baguettes. I would love to go back and go to a real restaurant.

  3. Again a beautiful post.
    I finished both of your books and absolutely loved them 🙂 I have a review of one of them for Friday. The next one is not done yet, but hopefully the Friday after that.

  4. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your special memories. It’s funny when we decide to show people the tourist views and when we decide to share the local view.

  5. A beautiful post Evelyne, I walked with you through those streets and experienced it as you did. I’ve been to Paris only once, for a single day and night during a trip backpacking around Europe. We happened to arrive on Bastille Day and watched a magnificent fireworks display then, because we’d assumed Paris would stay open all night and so hadn’t booked a hotel, we wandered around the city during the early hours as everything seemed to shut down, sitting outside the Louvre in the darkness and finally heading to the train station for an early train. We saw some of the tourist sites, but I remember it as a more unusual way to experience the city!

  6. A very touching story for a great picture.

  7. Thanks for the invite, Evelyne. I can’t do Five Photos, Five Stories, but I can definitely do one photo. I’ll post on Monday and share my reflections.

  8. I have always dreamed of Paris. My whole life. It doesn’t look like I’ll make it this time around the wheel, so thank you for making me feel like I was just there with you 🙂

    • Oh I’m sorry that you never went to Paris, but happy to have provided a very small virtual tour. I feel fortunate to have known Paris when it was still so distinct from other cities. It remains unique but shops and restaurants tend nowdays to look more alike. With more civility and niceness come also less originality. However, the Parisian architecture and renowned landmarks are still there and for them it is worth a trip. Thank you again for your visit. Marilyn.

  9. Thanks for sharing a bit of “your” Paris! I’ve only spent a week there, but that city stole part of my soul. I’m dying to go back, even if it’s only for a day. I often wonder what it would be like to spend one day there all by myself 🙂

    • A week in Paris is already wonderful, but there is so much to see and to do than another week would be great. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart and thoughts.
      If you ever get a chance, yes, spending a day alone in Paris is just lovely.

      • We’ve already planned at least another week for our next France trip, but if I can sneak in a solo day between now and then I certainly will! 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] part of the challenge of “5 Photos, 5 Stories” (by Evelyne’s invitation), I’m presenting my five memories of meeting seniors during […]

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