In light of the horrific events that took place in Paris this past weekend, I thought I would spend some time reflecting on one of my most favorite cities in the world: Paris (in case you couldn’t figure that out before!). There are two cities in the world that make my heart flutter, Chicago and Paris. Paris was the first city I ever visited abroad, as well as the first city I lived in abroad. It will always have a special place in my heart, which is why I was shattered to hear the news on Friday. I have a connection to this city, to its people, to its culture. It was a hard blow and my pain resonates with the French.
If you knew me, you would know that I talk about Paris a lot. I always dream of going back, living there, retiring and spending the rest of my life there, etc. By all means, it is a tough city. The stereotypes of ‘snobby Parisians‘ and dirty, smelly streets filled with pickpockets may ring true at times. However, couldn’t you say the same about New York or other big cities? New Yorkers get a bad rap for being ‘rude, harsh, and blunt‘ and most of all, hating tourists. People say you can smell NYC before you actually get into the city. To me, this is just city-life. The farther away from the city, the ‘nicer’ the people, the cleaner the surroundings. I love the fact that Paris may sometimes smell like urine (that is a weird quote!) – do you understand HOW much history is in this city?! Of course you can’t wipe away that…no pun intended! I personally loved the Parisians, you can get them to thaw a little bit if you attempt to speak French to them and they will surprisingly help you when lost.
Paris is home to some of the most amazing art and architecture in the world. From Van Gogh to Monet, to Haussmann to the iconic-but-ever-so-hated Eiffel Tower. Don’t get me started on the amazing cathedrals and basilicas! Every arrondissement houses at least one museum, if not multiple, and you can tour the homes of famous French authors, such as Victor Hugo and my favorite, Voltaire. There is just so much to see and do that you would need more than a lifetime to do it all!
Paris does have its seedy underbelly, like many big, historical cities. There are certainly areas I avoid during both nighttime AND daytime, but I live in Chicago for goodness sake! It brings character to Paris. Paris also has a rocky history, especially of late. The French are proud; they value their culture and their language and change isn’t something they enjoy, causing conflicts, riots, and harsh sentiments. However, these can be found here in the US, in London, etc.
Paris is the ‘City of Lights’, the ‘City of Love’, the city that must wistful young-ones dream about. It is a strong city, with even stronger and more resilient people. They will rise and come together, much like we did in 2001. And while I have a connection with Paris, that doesn’t mean I care less for Lebanon, Kenya, Afghanistan, etc. Unfortunately, this could happen in any city, howber, I stand with France, I stand with the others, I stand for peace for the world.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité.