Paris, je t’aime

{From my balcony in the 15th Arrondissement}

Paris is the kind of place where accordion players jump into green metro cabins just as the tin doors snap shut and zoom your train through a spiral tunnel. A place where street-side vendors spin crêpes like records, mischievously drizzling them with Nutella and powdered sugar. Across the city, a hundred carousels come to life of their own accord as the twinkling red, gold, and green lights begin to shimmer along the Champs-Elysées. Art deco lampposts quickly follow suit, lining the glittering waters of the Seine with strokes of black and gold. Glasses clink, bread crumbs scatter, and laughter flows harmoniously from cafés all the way from Ile de la Cîté to Rivoli where seas of tables tendril out from under the red awnings, facing the street for unabashed people-watching…for what better place to do so than in the confident home of haute couture.

Until tonight I found it near impossible to try to pinpoint and – worse – attempt to verbalize exactly what it is that sweeps me up in the joie de vivre spirit of Paris…but I hope you stay with me as I give it a try.

Strangely enough, the only word I can think of that expresses what Paris means to me is in the (in my opinion) unromantic language of German. Richard Wagner, a famous composer, once had to make up the word, Gesamtkunstwerk to express his vision of  “a total synthesis of art in all its forms.” No city embodies this mélange of art, music, and architecture better than Paris, and that is why I – like so many others before me – have fallen completely in love with this beautiful and vibrant city.

I spent the happiest of Saturday mornings climbing up the paint-splattered cobbled streets of Montmartre where Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso once ambled. Mingling amidst the furrowed-brow focused street artists, alongside the souvenir-seeking tourists are the languid food-lovers stacking pots of oyster shells, as they spill white wine off the edge of the little mountain down onto the rooftops of the Moulin Rouge cabaret where Toulouse-Lautrec had once spent so much of his time…”painting.” At the top of the hill shines the Sacre-Coeur Basilica upon whose steps musicians and pickpockets both perfect their art, whilst far away the gargoyles of Notre Dame protect dreamers like Hemingway wandering the gold-red-lit streets of the Latin Quarter below.

Wednesdays whisk me off to new galleries when the Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre becomes our “classroom,” resulting in the fourteen of us hurtling through the Mona Lisa crowds and cameras to keep up with our spritely Art History teacher, who brims with knowledge about every brushstroke and theory accepted and rebelled by various eras’ artists. But it doesn’t take an expert eye to appreciate the juxtaposition of the imposingly intricate Louvre Palace with the modern glass Louvre Pyramid, where just two weeks ago Dior’s runway models marched to new design frontiers. Unparalleled energy and levels of paparazzi swept through every quarter of the city at Paris Fashion Week as celebrities and designers flooded in, admiring the world my fellow IES students and I get to call home for four months.

Evening turns to night and the red and white curtains fold perfectly as I pull the cords and push open the French windows to step out onto my little balcony on the top floor of building. Tiny green, red, and gold lights glow from the apartment windows across from us, giving glimpses into other Parisians’ lives. The usual smokers are at their perch and sometimes they nod or wave to me between the rising clouds of cigarette smoke. I’m lucky enough to live with the most affectionate host family, the Maredsous,’ in the serene 15th Arrondissement. Under their kind tutelage and the spell of Hélène’s delicious cooking, my “creative” French grammar has steadily improved in syntax and speed in this beautiful home-away-from-home.

Somewhere in the directionally diagonal distance, a clock strikes the hour and instantly far above the City of Lights, a beacon of 20,000 bulbs glitter brilliantly for five perfect minutes on the Eiffel Tower. An autumn breeze blows across my balcony, and I smile knowing that I’ve got everything I ever dreamed of and more.

Paris, je t’aime.

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

4 thoughts

  1. Fantastic, really nice, happy writing days are here again! Congrats on climbing out of the sewers and back to the top of the hill again!!

    Very nice indeed!!

    Lots of love Dad

    Sent from my iPad



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