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I am on day 7 in La Ville-Lumière, and there are quite a few things I could get used to and a few that I would either change or chuck. It has been great to stroll through the city. I’ve clocked decent mileage and even climbed the Eiffel Tower. This would normally be hurtling me to the “becoming thinner” task, if my diet didn’t’ consist primarily of wine, bread, and stinky cheese. However, let’s all realize that I would have to walk around in drawstring pants to accommodate those meals, if not for hoofing it. Score.
There are the obvious sights to take in here and then there are the true gems like finding the café where best to watch passers-by, or a favorite bridge to have lunch on and watch the boats putter down the Seine. I found my bridge on my second day in Paris. There isn’t anything spectacular about the construction of it. As far as this girl could tell, it is made of wood and some metal. The sturdy kind. It is called the Pont des Arts, and the chain link sides are covered with thousands of padlocks.
My initial thought was that it was a popular spot for locking up your bike, but then I looked more closely at the locks and saw that people had engraved or written initials, notes, and dates on them; locking their hearts there. On that bridge. In Paris. I’m a sucker for sweet things. I don’t know what else to tell you.
A few things that boggle me about Paris:
1) If an American (me) eats baguettes, cheese, croissants, and chocolate, they become lethargic, their skin breaks out, and they begin to waddle and not fit their clothes, but the French eat like that and their skin is smooth and requires no foundation or cover up AND they are svelte-like.
2) Tourism is an area Parisians feel particularly gifted in, but if that game “pick-up-sticks” was made of spaghetti noodles that would be the likeness of their metro system. AND all the signs are in French. What gives?
3) Visitors love the beauty and pulse of this city, and always long to return, but will typically comment on how badly they’ve been treated here. This seems masochistic. I prefer to be praised and appreciated wherever I am.
4) Along the same vein of that attitude of Parisians toward the rest of the world, I will say I wonder at their shifty moods. On the one hand, they stomp around with an air of “Don’t even look at me”, “I don’t give a stale croissant what you think”, and “You are not worthy of gulping my air” –erey, and on the other they relish comfort and pretty things and are known for their passionate amoureux.
5) Lots of thought and resources are put into the quantity and variety of flowers planted in the city and suburbs. It’s really lovely. Meanwhile, people and animals go potty on the sidewalk alongside the gardens.
6) There is an evident promotion of relaxation and stress-free living here, but driving around, say, the Arch de Triumph, can get you killed owing to manic, unclear traffic patterns and kamikaze motor bikes.
7) Parisians throw on random garments I wouldn’t put a finger on in a thrift store and manage to look annoyingly chic. I very seriously stood in awe of a woman with alarmingly radical bed head, no makeup save for some magenta lip stick, a boyfriend blazer, running pants (picture fugly and ill-fitting Adidas) and some very high and strappy leather heels. Her ensemble made no sense and yet she was stunning and I wanted to slap her.
The characteristics that make Paris, Paris have been excellent fodder for the book I am working on, so I am looking forward to hunkering down and getting some writing done. Being in this romantic city is calling to mind the various relationships, infatuations, stalkers, and trysts of my lifetime, and how they’ve crafted my expectations and fundamental beliefs, so I will coast this inspirational current and hopefully make a huge dent in my manuscript…as I munch endless carbs. Happy and nostalgic.
Photos © 2010 Abigail Santmyer.