Learning to navigate Paris is a matter of unplugging and finding yourself walking towards your destination using your navigo (public transport pass) and using a paper map. However, while doing so during this packed week I realized a few things about the city I had not thought of before.
1. Paris is a city, not simply the idyllic place shown in films.
Part of what I think surprised me about Paris was not the beauty or freshness of it, but rather the clear problems the country has as well. The Western perspective of Europe seems to highlight the tourist destinations and the preserved history. But like every other city Paris has homelessness, poverty, and good/bad areas to be. Perhaps it is better to travel the world with a keen eye and the knowledge that the perspective you carry is not always the best one.
2. Paris has a culture of parks and recreation!
One of the most beautiful parts of Paris are the parks peppered into every square inch possible. However, instead of being a playground with grass– these parks are filled with colorful flora and separates Parisians from the hustle and bustle of the city to a more relaxed environment. Over the course of the last week we’ve seen these parks be used a picnic spots, places teenagers hang out, large dance classes and music parties. Students go there in the evening to do homework and there’s a sense of community as people take care of the space they share.
3. Parisian Art is not limited to a gallery.
Rather graffiti takes place everywhere and anywhere possible. From monuments like the statue in Place de Republique (a common meeting area for causes, protests, and at the moment the going green movement) to streets you pass in the corner artists take over walls and add modernity to history. These very old buildings not only function today but take a large part in culture by becoming gallery space for some artists.
While there is much more I want to say about this week– regarding my trip to Montmarte, Chartes, navigating the metro, strike days, and even the galleries we’ve been to. I believe it’s best to keep my posts organized by theme. This week it’s three realizations regarding city culture– next week get ready for some art gallery reviews!
Till next time,