“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
Even though my meager allowance prevents me from living in Paris, I recently had the opportunity to visit the dazzling City of Lights. Honestly, I’m not sure if words can even begin to describe how gorgeous this city truly is, but like Hemingway and other writers from The Lost Generation, I’ll attempt to let Paris speak for itself. However, I doubt I’ll be able to do it justice.
You know, there’s great truth in the Parisian-approved saying: “A bad day in Paris is still better than a good day anywhere else.” With lazily curving streets and flawless architecture, who wouldn’t mind getting caught in the rain? There’s an undeniable energy that runs through these streets. Like a whisper in the wind, it draws you forward with the curiosity of the unknown, the thrill of adventure, and the smell of baguettes. With every step, you’re embraced by the stories of the past, the vibrance of the present, and the hope of the future. These enticing sensations hide behind every corner beaconing to you like a long lost friend. In such a captivating state as this, it’s hard to feel anything but alive.
Like the streets, the buildings sing a different verse to the same sweet melody. Crafted by the architects of long ago, these weather-beaten edifices have seen every circumstance under the sun. A step across their threshold will shed an even greater light on the secrets they possess. The glorious stained glass windows of Notre Dame have no doubt observed their fair share of salvation and damnation. Everyday, amongst the habitual prayers and liturgies, they somberly listen to the doubts of the believers and skeptics alike. In these moments, they wonder how these people can stand in their heavenly light and not believe that there is a God. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Paris, the Palace of Versailles stands proudly in its lavish glory as it is hailed the home of kings who thought they were “gods.” Its halls of mirrors and gold remain in all their falsehood, to suggest a time of happiness and prosperity. Despite the handsome lords and glittering ladies that once filled the glittering palace, the rest of Paris was far from prosperous. Though not as embellished as its ostentatious successor, the Louvre houses paintings and sculptures that tell the true story — the story of the people. The corridors of this unshakeable fortress are filled with tales of love, loss, and everything in between. However, no matter the account, each masterpiece continually manifests the idea that even in the worst of times, art could conquer all. Even Mona Lisa found something to smile about.
No matter where you go in Paris, it seems that these priceless lessons of life are just waiting to be uncovered. That’s the beauty of traveling. For some it seems ridiculous, or even foolish, to want to leave all the freedoms and luxuries that America offers in order to wake up in a country that presents a multitude of disconcertions. However, for the traveler, this curiosity of the unknown is the gravitational pull that takes us to these places in the first place.
The need to experience different sites, smells, and ways of life propels us toward the great unknown with reckless abandon, and before we know it, we find ourselves in Paris. The place where high fashion meets delectable pastries. Under the stars, we sit drinking coffee with diverse faces as we lose track of time pondering the mysteries that people of years before our time have pondered. All the while remembering that we are mere party guests in an enormous, infinite moveable feast.