Petits Français

DSCF0516The next day, we walked our neighbourhood streets stopping at patisseries, to stare in on the delicate creations.  We were in search of a café, that would cater to our needs. Those needs being: speaking absolutely no French. Petits français. Most the menus on the display in this area were only in French, just as the restaurant the night before. We had to resort in having faith the French would have a stronger basis in linguistics than ourselves. And, they did, we came across virtually no one who did not at least attempt to communicate with us, in our pitiful singular language.

The streets of Paris, were everything that I imagined they would be. It was like walking through a dream, every building a piece of artwork with a notable history to tells its tale. While the sidewalks may have appeared considerably dirtier, and with an even greater number of homeless than the streets of London. It was far more beautiful, staring up at the buildings as the warm morning sun rose, and illuminated their individuality. If Paris were a maze, I would have little issue in losing my sanity, as I strolled through endlessly for all of eternity.

In saying this, I did feel a greater sense of anxiety when it came to my safety. Perhaps, it was the city’s reputation, of somewhere you are likely to get mugged, and or, pickpocketed. Or, perhaps it was the mass homeless that wandered the streets. With their foreign dialect, and my inability to decipher what they were saying, which resluted in heightened tension. My inherent, and default Australian instincts, also possibly playing a part like some realisation of a natural mode of racism, or xenophobia. Or, perhaps, it was more so a result of the countless stories from other Australian’s, who had visited before me, and felt unsafe due to their inherent racism. Whatever the case, I still walked those city streets all day with a smile upon my face, and a hand checking my pockets every hundred steps.

I managed to see everything one would hope to see their first time in Paris. From the Eiffel Tower, to the Arc De Triomphe, to Notre Dame, to the Louvre museum. All of them, bringing me a far greater sense of satisfaction than any of the tourist attractions, in London. Except maybe, the Mona Lisa; which felt extremely underwhelming, and insignificant when held up comparatively to the other magnificent works housed in the same room. This relatively small painting, which most western souls have viewed thousands of times over throughout their lives. Drew a crowd of bewildered tourists, piling over the top of each other in front of the security rope. Squishing, pushing, and struggling amongst one another, just for a photo of the artistic wonder to post on their grams, or to keep for memory sake. As if, they could somehow forget what the most photographed piece of artwork on the planet looked like, or, that they viewed it amongst the crowd that day. It was astonishing, to see everyone battle to the front of the crowd, just to take their photo. I stood there, only glimpsing at the painting briefly, being far more amused by the characteristics, and actions of this testimony to humanity. As the crowd fulfilled their dreams of viewing, and staring through a camera lens at the historical wonder. Perhaps, this was Leonardo’s real masterpiece, the horde of sheep that came to stare at his work, through an LCD screen.

The youth of the city, were one of the most significantly attractive things about Paris. And, of course, that entails the Women who walked the streets, and contested the beauty of the architecture that surrounded them. Each one more beautiful than the last. But, even more attractive than the graceful beauty of the women whom displayed a proud sense of strength, and courage with only their stride; was the energy that surrounded both sexes. I felt this great sense of difference between the Gen Y’s that I had departed from in my homeland, and the ones I sat amongst in a bar at happy hour, on a Thursday night.

All of them, sat and spoke exclusively in French. Sharing merry drinks, but having the utmost respect for one another. Greeting with a kiss on each cheek, and conversing with courtesy, and patience. Even as the hours ticked over, and the glasses piled upon the table, this essence of maturity never wavered. Excusing themselves, without even a stumble to retreat for a humble cigarette in the cold outside. They always managed to return with the same graceful presence amongst their social tables. I am not sure what kind of pub you would have to come across in Aus, to have the same experience; but, I can assure you, it certainly would not be one that sold pints for three euro.

A long stroll through the night streets home, we took a detour bypassing the famous Moulin Rouge. We stopped for more pastries, and declined offers of cocaine, as we crept further into the red-light district. Somewhat of a juxtaposition to our evening, having attended a 6pm service at the Notre Dame. A ceremony of gothic magnitude, that the former Catholic within me only dreamed of experiencing. Staring up at the celling, in that great monumental Cathedral, as the organ played and the Priest spoke to the procession in French, bowing their heads, and joining in prayer. It was unlike anything I had experienced before, standing there and being taken back to the by-weekly masses of my childhood days. But, as we approached La Chappelle station, crossing the bridge, and spotting the congressional meetings of vice driven youths. It brought our time in Paris, to an end. Cementing the beautiful manic diversity of our short trip, as we retired to our loft, and set our alarms for 3 AM to catch a 6:45 flight to Berlin.

Terrae Nullius Streets