29 May, 2014

I miss Paris...

 A collage of some of the photos I took in Paris

I guess it's natural for people to fall in love with vacation destinations. For a start, they're feeling relaxed as they're on holidays. Secondly, it's something different from the norm. I've always wanted to go to Paris but was never exactly sure why. I guess I sensed that it was an amazing, creative place. Upon going there, I discovered that it is not merely creative but has a certain magic about it. Sure, there were some pickpockets, opportunists etc. roaming around in different areas but the general essence of the place was extremely unique. Yes, I am possibly going out on a limb, having only spent two weeks there, but there were certain things I observed about that huge city which made it remarkable in my eyes:

1) The People. The people are amazing and make the place what it is. I love the way that French people speak at a normal volume, in a very a pleasant, almost demure, way. I also found them to be incredibly helpful and polite (bar the odd, jaded employee at busy tourist spots). Overall, I found Parisians to be very friendly and creative people. From what I observed, they do frown upon loud, obnoxious types, but politeness and appreciation goes a long way in Paris.

2) The Environment. The city has an wonderful balance between the natural and made environments. For a large city, it is also generally kept spotless. Yes, I realise that the amount of money coming into that place is astronomical, but a lot appears to be spent on keeping the city looking beautiful for the local residents as well as the many 'out-of-towners' who trawl around the place at any one time.

3) The Metro. I just love the design of the city and the Metro system is the fastest, most convenient way to get around. I had a special weekly ticket which allowed me as many trips a day as I wanted. Sometimes attractions were closed, so it didn't take long to jump on the Metro and visit another one. Even when using the Metro, there is still a lot of walking to get to actual sites. It was great to see so much of Paris this way.

4) The Sites. Paris has some wonderfully unique attractions such as the catacombs and beautifully maintained cemeteries. What I love most is the accessibility of all of the attractions. The entry prices are very reasonable and do not exclude the average person from experiencing them. There is a certain freedom one feels in Paris. Despite the hoards of tourists, the sites are still authentic and not bogged down by OH&S signage etc. I found this refreshing for such a busy city.

5) The Art. Although not a particularly 'crafty' place, Paris is very arty when it comes to traditional art forms such painting, sculpture and drawing. I observed sketch classes taking place wherever I went (such as in the Botanical Gardens), walked through to a sculpture exhibition in the middle of a town square, and saw painters in action in Montmartre and in art galleries. Many people valued sketching and painting as a leisure pursuit, which seems rather rare here in Australia. I somehow felt that I fit into the place, a place which highly values creative expression and the importance of diverse visual interpretations.

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