Paris is a fascinating place and Parisians seem to avoid being boring like the plague. One does not want to be seen as “ordinary,” so they find ways to set themselves apart while being immersed in the cultural fruit salad that is Paris. Fashion comes to mind immediately and that is certainly on display everywhere. I have never seen so many different styles of eyewear. But there’s more to individualism than one’s wardrobe. It’s also in how you get from place to place. Not just cars, buses, and motorcycles, but scooters, bikes, unicycles, skateboards, and battery operated uniwheels. The jury may be out, but my vote goes to Parisians for their transportation oneupmanship. With the population coursing along the veins of the city like so many well dressed red blood cells, people still find ways to carve out a little space for themselves like the fellow in the first image.
With Paris being the city of love, it is not surprising to find places where people express their undying affection for their partner and one of those places is the Ponts de Arts Bridge featured in the second photo. What started out simply enough by two lovers has quickly mushroomed into problem for cities across the world. After sustaining damage to the bridge from the weight and weathering of the locks, Paris officials have the locks removed at least once a month. Your love may be forever, but that lock with your initials is gone in 30 days.
Part of the charm of old cities are the narrow streets and the buildings crowding them. Paris has those in abundance. In order to make transportation work here concessions have to be made. Cars are smaller. Street maintenance vehicles in Paris are the size of clown cars in the U.S. People are gifted at parallel parking and because there will always be bozos who want to pass you on the passenger side, city fathers have installed posts to prevent these jerks from going up on the sidewalk.
We took in part of a mass at Notre Dame cathedral and beauty of the soloist made the hair on my arms stand up. No matter what your beliefs are, it would be hard not to be moved by the music. The structure lived up to its billing, though I have to say I was more in awe of Sainte Chapelle, featured in the fourth image. The term “jawdropping” gets overused, but it is an apt description of this small chapel. When we came through the door the place was jammed and everyone was looking up. It is visually stunning, well maintained by the staff, and worth twice the price of admission.
Going through small shops and talking to the owners is something we enjoy. While strolling on our last Sunday in the city we came across Anatolie Kilim, a small rug store. It was closed, but with all the gorgeous things we saw in the window, we made plans to come back the next day. The owner, Enbiya, has the place filled to capacity with neatly folded kilims of various sizes and colors. He learned the business from his father, but went out on his own due to friction in their relationship, which has healed over time. He travels regularly to Turkey and gathers his inventory by visiting villages. Enbiya spent a lot of time explaining the weaving process and the symbolism of the figures found in the kilims. As Enbiya worked with us he was constantly moving his glasses off the bridge of his nose up to his forehead, so I decided if he would get in front of my camera that would be how his portrait would get created. We were looking for a rug for the entry of our home and it would have to be long and narrow. Enbiya searched his inventory and found one that fit our dimensions and it perfectly complemented the color palette of our home. It was the only one of its kind in the store. Go figure. Enbiya made purchasing the kilim a joyful experience and our interaction with him made our trip just a bit more special.
The Pompidou Center is the home to one of the largest collections of art in France and while not shown in the photograph, it is best known for being an “inside-out” structure with conduit, vents, and all kinds of tubing on the outer walls of the structure. It is also a great place to view the Paris skyline and it is where this image of Sacre Couer was created.
As we made our way back to our hotel on our last evening in Paris, we were treated to a wonderful sunset over the Seine as a barge made its way up the river. I’ve been on some great trips, but was always ready to return home…until now. We had such a wonderful time that we could have stayed for another two weeks.