WHY THE CITY OF LIGHTS WILL ALWAYS HAVE MY HEART
I have probably mentioned it before that Paris is my favourite city. True, I buzz with excitement, as I navigate the human traffic on the sidewalks of the Big Apple. I will not deny that I feel right at home, when I cross Hyde Park en route from Bayswater to Knightsbridge. And each time I am in Rome, I am humbled by the monumental city.
But despite all that, it is Paris that will always have my heart. I have spent some time contemplating why and realized that Paris, thought always offering something new, somehow feel like ‘home’ to me.
Perhaps growing up with heaps of books by Alexandre Dumas has left its mark. Perhaps the prohibition of all things American in the Soviet era contributed to this “preference”. I can’t quite figure out why but the proof is all around.
It is not surprising that the very first time I laid my eyes on Louvre; I was convinced that I know every corner of the grandiose palace. The glass pyramid almost did not register in my mind initially, so fixated I was on the home of Louis XIII and other French royalty.
Palais Royale is another such landmark for me, thanks to my adoration of the Bourbon dynasty history and the royal intrigue. The relatively ‘low key’ complex is often overlooked by tourists, yet I make a point of walking its beautiful gardens every time. My recent tour with KEYS FOR PARIS has helped me see the palace, as a place of majestic royal celebrations and debauchery. Did you know this is where champagne was served to the public for the first time?
Île Saint-Louis is essentially a time machine. The tiny oasis of medieval architecture literally transports you centuries back and, if you listen carefully, you may even hear the hooves of the musketeers, beating on the cobblestone roads of this beautiful corner of Paris.
Moreover, you do not need to be conditioned by USSR-era cinema to instantly recognize other Parisian landmarks. Case in point: Notre Dame de Paris. Even if you did not read Victor Hugo’s literary masterpiece, you know that the cathedral is a setting for a popular novel, turned movie, turned musical. It is such a recognizable attraction that merely a glimpse of its famous gargoyles will start ‘ringing bells’. Pun intended.
Paris is the world’s most visited city, for years running. But specific areas in Paris are so well documented be it via literature, music, cinema or photography that they are engraved in visitors’ minds long before they visit. Such reconnaissance can’t go unnoticed and it is this connection with the City of Lights that makes me confess to you that Paris will always have my heart.
The full article first appeared on The Other “F-word” blog.