Like everyone who has gone to Paris I had preconceptions of what I would experience. These arose from French classes taken in the distant past when dinosaurs still roamed (or deGaulle at least), Simenon novels (both print and dramatized), movies, paintings of Edouard Cortès and all the other things adheres to you as live. I was very conscious of "Paris Syndrome" that the Japanese even have a name for: pari shokogun. You can look it up in the hive mind. Yet, for some reason it didn't hit me, even with the layers of cultural accretions that had built up over six decades. Paris affected me like no other major city I have traveled to.
I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the complete dearth of tourists due to travel restrictions — there was no line up at the Louvre for heaven's sakes! Or perhaps it was due to our location, a top notch AirBnB that had a view of the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps it was because I was aware of pari shokogun and determined to avoid it. Most likely though it was because I was there with my wife on our first vacation without obligations since before children.
Looking through my handy-dandy notebook (of course you scribble in a notebook whilst in the cafe having cafe au lait and pain chocolate!) I noted several times how I felt one should approach Paris. One entry reads:
"To embrace Paris is to be embraced by the city itself. There is a degree of fractal chaos present, not only in its layout but in the rhythm of the city [and you have to accept that]. Sure the RER C is not operational [from Notre Dame to Pont Alma, meaning we have to drag our luggage from Notre Dame to our flat] [and it] doesn't show that on the RATP app. [To cope] a Gallic shrug and one moves on. [although at first it really knackered us and we had to stop for fortification]..."
|Rosé and Beer|
"...Absent the horses the Paris of Cortès is still there but like a French woman of a certain age and breeding it is now discreetly masked only to be revealed to someone who will listen to her stories, flirt with her and pay her the respect she is due..."
|A street we found|
|Paris in the rain|
|Grinning for now...|
|Quick! He's getting away!|
|Work with me! Yeah Baby!|
|A quiet afternoon read|
|It's a fashion accessory! Really it is!|
|Calvinball à la Parisienne|
|Prepare to cast off|
"...I was a free man in ParisI felt unfettered and aliveThere was nobody calling me up for favorsYou know I'd go back there tomorrowBut for the work I've taken on..."Joni Mitchell