Its reputation precedes it like almost no other great city in the world. Paris captures the imagination and rightly so. It is the embodiment of life's simple pleasures. The city of love, food, wine, art, and culture. Excellence is rare and worth seeking out in any part of the world – even Paris of course. However, what strikes me the most about Paris is that even the ordinary things- the bread in the local café, the wine at the corner bistro, or the architecture and beauty of the buildings off a main road are excellent too. It is this excellence of a ubiquitous nature that makes Paris so special for me. Perhaps we can all take a lesson from Paris by raising our standards - of being excellent in small and everyday ways. Perhaps the result will be rewarding and we can occupy a special place in the minds of many – just like Paris does.
The city is large and bustling with strict building codes limiting styles and building heights to conform to the look Paris has had for hundreds of years. While still maintaining a homage to the past, it is the home to countless iconic buildings and symbols both historic and contemporary. The Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Pompideaux – it has flawlessly managed to still progress forward while at the same time reflecting its past. Much of Europe has been in one way or another physically affected by the second World War but while the Germans were destroying Catherine’s Place in St. Petersburg, they still held respect for the many historic buildings and sacred areas of Paris. With its historic nature intact and the fact that preservation and zoning laws ran tightly, it is a major city that has been largely left unchanged for hundreds of years. Then and now, people from all over the world hold a profound respect for Paris.
While the historic city center holds 2.2mm, the greater Paris metro area is home to over 12mm. This equates to almost 20% of the population of France and makes it one of the most important economic hubs in Europe. With its vast collection of museums, a large fashion district, and ever growing culinary scene, it is considered the cultural capital of Europe, maybe even all of the western world. While a bustling big city, it also reflects a slower pace than one would expect. People enjoy life a little more here, take more time for themselves, their friends, and their family. People savor their food longer here, walk a little slower, and pay attention to the details.
Our days in Paris were spent doing what you should do when you go to Paris. Eating well, shopping, touring museums, drinking wine, and walking a lot to take in beautiful views. Some of these views were picture-worthy like the Eiffel Tower lighting up after sunset, while others will paint a great memory in my mind, like walking along the Seine river on a clear and warm day. It was such a wonderful time having John with us to translate a bit and to share the experience. We had a great Airbnb in the Champs-Élysées, in the heart of it all which made it an ideal jumping off point. It was also great watching John enjoy the architecture both modern and classic here – particularly the Pompideaux. To say that Paris stole my heart would not be accurate- it has had it for quite a long time and seeing it anew after ten years made it even more special to me. // Jeff