Arriving in Paris from a 36 hour plane journey from Australia is a mildly harrowing experience. We finally emerged from Charles de Gaul airport, only then to submerge back underground on the metro and when we crawled out from the subway real sunlight and oxygen seemed foreign and harmful after all the check-ins, check-outs, the fluorescent lighting and air-conditioning. Arriving in Paris felt somewhat like being reborn.
We were staying at a riverside backpackers and quickly put to work on finding our digs. Once we did, the exploration for nice food and wifi was on. A baguette, a peaceful place to sit and an internet connection was what we found. Then it was time to venture out. Everything was so new to me, the buildings, the cars, the movement of the city. Coming from a small ocean-side village in Sydney, the bustle of Paris was a far-cry from anything I had expected or seen. There was an undercurrent of sadness, or struggle or harshness in the city, amidst its gleaming white buildings and vast reputation as the City of Love, it was a feeling I did not expect either.
Our first little adventure was to a park that still sits as my favorite in Paris. The Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Bountiful with trees and birds and adorned with a rock face surrounded by a mote- this was the kind of green-scape we needed.
Our initial days in Paris flew by, we did several of the obligatory tours that one does on their first time in Paris, tours to the monuments that everyone else is seeing. They were enjoyable but always seemed to leave me wanting more, or something different – a tour without the guide and all the people in it perhaps – something more private and special.
My friend and I made it to Montmartre on a beautiful sunny day. Jam-packed with more tourists like us of course but still so spectacularly stunning. The posters and art and smell of garlic and butter was intoxicating.
On the way back we went through the Marais district. Slightly upper-class, it felt somewhat like Paddington in Sydney, which is a groovy kind of place. Of course, we got ourselves a little lost, which is nice in a place like the Marais. Pale buildings covered in ivy with big timber doors, loads of cute boulangeries and even a few organic produce shops.
My first few days in Paris are memorable to say the least, but not just for the reasons one would usually think (the french culture, food and sights) my feelings for Paris were and still are mixed with a mild melancholia, or foreboding. For this city of lights, high-fashion and haute cuisine has a past, one that I felt quite deeply upon first arrival, a feeling I understand more now after researching the city’s expansive history.
Pairs – a place to be explored, thats for sure.
The Globe Hunter.