Reflections on the "Real" Paris
I am having one of those fromage moments that you can only have when utter beauty surrounds you and your senses are deeply satisfied. I had my moment, and I saw about 3 other young touristy hopefuls having it at the exact time. I know it's cheesy, but please allow me this one. This city is too damn beautiful for your brain not want to explode in cheese sauce once in a while! (To get the whole reading experience, I recommend playing La Bohème, posted below, while reading.)
Sometimes I forget I am in Paris. I feel like I live in an ivory tower completely detached from a place so utterly rich in culture and history. All I know of this city, what I have proudly called the real Paris, is that of the trendy nightlife and the beautiful fluent in English, French people. But as I write this, two handsome men in worn blazers and London schoolboy like shoes are standing on a bridge playing Charles Aznavour while the setting sun creates peach kissed lighting behind them. A looming Notre Dame casts long shadows on the ground and the gentle spring breeze blows my skirt against my legs and La Boheme gently into my ears. Can you picture it? Like putting the last puzzle piece in place, something clicks in me and I feel that I get it, the Paris that everyone writes about. The Paris of hopeful ex-patriots searching for inspiration along the Seine. Then, I feel a stab of sadness for not living in this particular dream.
But before I submit to a lifestyle reform and start writing in cafes, I wonder. Is this the real Paris or that put on display for me and the other yearning dreamers who visit Paris? Is this what we want to see so badly because we have been fed this image since we learned how to say Je m'appelle Felicia? Maybe. The music that brought me back to my dreams is over 50 years old. Notre Dame is one of the largest tourist attractions. What is the real Paris? Seems like a basic question, but I don't think my English speaking boyfriend and friends even know. I thought I had a solid idea, but like the clowns jumping out of the tiny car, I am surprised again, and it has left me lost between what is a dream and what is reality.