What an experience.
On route to my Camino journey, I met up with my hubby who had been working on the Euro cup football in France. We had planned to stay two nights together before he returned home and it was a great way to catch a glimpse of a city that had never been on my radar before. Perhaps that is why I was so impressed with the place as there had been no expectations other than the usual touristy attractions.
Our hotel was set in a quiet residential area a ten minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe and thanks to some lovely weather, we took our time to get there.
Whenever I get to a new place it is natural for me to try figure out the energy and I was pleasantly surprised to feel this French ‘air ‘. It seems like the local residents are calmy self assured and that gives them the freedom to be their best version of themselves, no matter if they are in work clothes on a scooter (both with seats and standing) working in a supermarket or sitting at a pavement cafe . Class, creativity, creed or age holds no limits for these beautiful specimens of the human race and they appear to effortlessly own their space in the world. While driving, smart car, sedan, bicycle or van- if you get in their way-they hoot or shout at you loudly and move on and don’t seem to dwell in their rage for long.
Many people smoke and make no apology for it but without arrogance and I think that is the crux of the energy of all locals- no arrogance. They know who they are and seem to be okay with any version of you too. On our tour bus, the ‘guide’ explained that for many years, big companies have been trying to get their brand onto the expensive retail property of Champs-Élysées , but in wisdom almost unheard of, if the brand wasn’t French then ‘noh’. I love that and as tourists it is refreshing to see the uniqueness of a culture almost undiluted by the global culture of greed. Yes of course many of the China imports filter through but there is a respect for their own kind. It doesn’t seem to be one of ‘ours is better’, it’s more of ‘yours isn’t French ‘. The Siene market stalls offered their own crafts or old French books and records and in this day and age it is hard to keep seeing original items .
Their language is soothing on my ear and everyone sounds romantic although not understood. Even the unrecognisable beggars (they don’t hold their hands out and are well dressed) and homeless people sound like they are quoting poetry.
I know that the state of utopia I am describing may not be the reality, but in feeling my way across the world, this Parisienne air was an extremely pleasant surprise in a world full of fear, arrogance and blame. I look forward to my longer return one day and exploring more of what this unusual city has to offer.