Thursday, 19 November 2015

We'll Always Have Paris ©

During my three and a half years in Paris, whenever I'd have spare time at the weekend I'd take my camera and walk the streets for hours taking photos. I'd upload them to Facebook, partly as a diary to document my time in Paris, and partly to show off my adopted city. I called the album Dando Vueltas en Paris (wandering in Paris) from a line in a Shakira song. I liked the way it described my meanderings through the city.

I started with the Eiffel Tower. As the world's most visited monument, it is possibly the world's most photographed as well. Not bad for a steel eyesore with an initial shelf life of 20 years! And yet despite the thousands upon thousands of photos of the Eiffel Tower, I love its variability. Just last week I caught an unexpected glimpse of the Tower in full view as I made my way to the modern art museum. I'd never seen it from this angle and I was as excited as I was the very first time I saw it. The vantage point, time of year, weather, time of day and skyline can all paint a very different picture of the Grande Dame, which may be the secret of its endless fascination.

I moved on to Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and the Louvre. Followed by the parks: Tuileries, Monceau, Buttes Chaumont... take your pick. Next to catch my attention were the Métro stations. The Art Deco Abbesses is my particular favourite but I'm always excited to leave the Métro at the futuristic copper Arts et Métiers on line 3, the elegant Cité or the funky wordsearch-style Concorde on line 12. I love the changing seasons, especially springtime when blossom fills the trees and the air turns warm. People watching is always compelling. And the beauty of the city can catch you off-guard when you least expect it. After the rain, the pavements and trees shine bright, facades glow in the setting sun and quayside lamps glitter in the waters of the Seine. The city is best after dark. The Eiffel Tower lights up and sparkles on the hour in celebration. This is the City of Lights after all.

There are many cities I love but none is so effortlessly enchanting as Paris. It is difficult to find a space in this city without its charm. Maybe it's the péripherique that contains it within a confined and easily manageable space. Maybe its the residents, in continued awe of their city. Maybe its the storied past made famous in film and literature. Paris may be a capital but it doesn't feel like London, New York or Berlin. It's smaller and its arrondissements cultivate a village feel. I always felt safe in Paris. It is always bright, always bustling even late into the night. During my time in the city, I didn't hesitate to walk on my own at night or go for a run before bed. Many of the photos in Dando Vueltas en Paris were taken at night.

This week I have grieved for my adopted city. A place that I am proud to call my second home. A place filled with great friends and cherished memories. I moved back to the UK last year but I still feel Parisian when I walk its streets. I still feel I belong there. Paris may change now and last week's events will become part of its history, darkness in the light. But Paris is still Paris. We'll always have Paris.

Some of my favourite photos of Paris from Dando Vueltas en Paris:

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