Ah Paris, mon amour! (cue in my poor imitation of French accent)
Almost everyone loves Paris. See, be it on random photos in social media bearing the words “travel goals”, or “dream destination” or how-to articles, one can see the adoration of many for the French capital . People adore the Eiffel tower, Louvre, or just simply the idea of anything that is considered Parisienne.
Even I had that childhood dream, especially after watching the TV series , Madeline. I wanted to live in France, befriend a girl named Madeline and later on become a nun like Miss Clavel. Apart from Italy, France was a place that I greatly admired, mostly for the food and culture. Documentaries and books only served to fuel that dream that even later on, this girl is still attached to the idea of European living.
Since I was a child, I made it my life goal to move to Europe. I do not know why I had this keen interest. I was simply fascinated with their culture. Italy was especially the country I was most fond of that I spend a lot of time watching Italian movies and documentaries. I was enamored with the idea of coming to Europe.
After Peru, my next destination was the beautiful city of Paris. I felt a bit overwhelmed on the fact that I’m finally here in a place that have been in my daydreams.
From the moment I arrived in the city, I knew and understood why people love the city, how many named Paris their favorite city to visit. Beautiful is an understatement when you describe Paris. The city has this aura that seems to seduce anyone who visits. From the building to the streets, somehow you can’t help but be at awe with the view. It is a modern, bustling city but it never lost that old town charm that has attracted artists looking for inspiration or simply a muse.
Given that I was broke, I explored the city by walking. I reckon that the best way to get to know a city is by taking time to explore it via foot which presents an opportunity for one to sight see as well as observe how daily life unfolds for the locals.
Apparently I did what most broke travelers would do: Head first to the free attractions.
The first place I visited (or got lost to) was the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.
The cathedral is a prominent Catholic cathedral located in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. Notre Dame Cathedral is renowned as one of the finest examples from the era of French Gothic architecture. The church was constructed for approximately 300 years hence the design bears influence from different styles of architecture. Both the exterior and interior displayed details that have a touch of Renaissance and Naturalism in them.
The sculptures and stained glass window panels especially display a heavy influence of naturalism.
Just across the cathedral is the Shakespeare & Company bookstore.
It was first established in 1919 by an American expat, Sylvia Beach in 8 rue Dupuytren. The shop would later move in the 6th arrondissement. It was both a library and a bookshop at that time where writers usually meet and gather for discussions. The store was haven for many prominent writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Unfortunately, the original shop was closed in 1940 during the German occupation of Paris and was never re-opened.
The present bookstore was opened in 1951 by George Whitman near the Seine, Notre Dame. After Sylvia Beach’s death, Whitman renamed his store “Shakespeare and Company” in tribute to the original. The bookstore was a prominent literary fixture in bohemian Paris. The shop is currently managed by Whitman’s daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman.
I heard young writers could also stay here. Affectionately referred to as “tumbleweeding” , one can stay here for free in exchange that they write their biography or whatever literary piece in mind. I hoped that I had the time to do so. I reckon it is every bookworm’s dream to work and stay in a quaint bookshop such as this one.
As I continue to explore, I can’t help but wonder.
There’s the happiness and excitement but there’s also this little, budding feeling. A feeling similar to what I felt back in Spain. I see the beauty of Paris, I’m in midst of its vibrancy surrounded by the sights I have longed for since I was a child yet there was a feeling of emptiness that I can’t seem to shrug off. It is not exactly emptiness but rather something was missing. I felt no connection with the city, just like it was in Barcelona. Both Barcelona and Paris were extremely beautiful however, I felt no sparks. It is scary to see how my ideals that have been built up for almost 15 years of my life, just gradually crumble.
It might have been my illness taking toll on me (I was still recovering after that bout of food poisoning) or maybe I was having a quarter life crisis. It might also be a case of overthinking and trying to be a bit dramatic.
But anyway, even though I’m kind of suddenly re-evaluating my life and ambitions, it does not mean I have to forego an adventure in Paris.