At the first glance, one of the easiest questions one can ask me is: ”Why Paris?” It seems so obvious and intuitively self-evident, that I can’t help but hear a rhetoric tone in it. It’s when I try to answer it that I find myself in trouble. I start uttering nonsense after nonsense, feeling pretty naive, thinking I must have fallen for a tourist attraction or some cliché or the artistic history… But after a minute or two, I realize the question gets the answer it deserves and satisfy myself with a stereotypical rebellion: ”Because it’s simply stunningly beautiful and I feel good here!” However, isn’t there more, much more? To be perfectly honest, isn’t there everything here?
I so often find myself walking through some random streets I usually don’t know the names of and couldn’t specifically point to on a map, mutely saying with a sigh or almost singing: ”This is why I love Paris.” Of course knowing quite well what I mean by it, but would find myself in the same muttering predicament if someone approached at that precise moment and suspiciously demanded: ”What is this this you’re talking about?” I would probably feel the same old sentiment that words don’t quite do it justice and just pathetically point to everything that would pass us by, to the buildings and the cars, to the people and the birds, the clouds above and asphalt ground below us, even to the dirty air surrounding us. And that is all I could really do. You have to feel the love and the joy of the city and its life, simply stop asking questions and experience it. Yes, here I am again, the same old me, servant of words, selfishly exclaiming line after line I prefer the five senses over them.
This time I will make an exception and try to describe what it is about Paris that is so enchanting and so very much intoxicating. Not by pointing out specific buildings or streets, monuments or museums, parks and river or canal banks, not by claiming it is the people who make the city what it is, although I could easily do that and it would all be completely true. I’ll take the other road, the abstract one which likes to generalize and pull out of the city its very core. At least the core it represents to me, since every single person would probably point out something else as the one thing that defines and captures it.
For me, it is the diversity, the variety, the richness and the serenity in it. No other city has so far fascinated me as much with the infinity of quarters, avenues and parks that I keep discovering, all so very lovely and so individualistic-ly Parisian. Each one having its own face and personality, but still joyously and proudly shouting from the top of its lungs that it is a part of the city, that it belongs to this particular labyrinth, and that it is to this city it owes its soul. It’s hard to miss this golden thread that connects them all, running from La Défense to Champs-Elysées, through Quartier Latin and Montparnasse all the way up to Belleville and La Villette, making another turn to reach Montmartre. They are all unique, though, and that’s what captivates me even more. How can one city have so many profiles and colours?
I know every city has its chic and its rough side, its blink-blink and its grayness, its black’n’white and its rainbow side, and all the shades in between, but what is so amazing in Paris for me is that you can find yourself in the most anonymously random small street, far away or just next to the attractions, through and through in love in what you see before you, falling deeply into the charm of its own spirit or only amused by the scene, but never cold and numb. Just step out of the room, open your senses and you’re there – no need for a map nor smart directions, just get on your comfortable shoes and walk, feel the city under your feet and watch the life passing you by…
Yes, I love this city so much I can’t help but get all pathetic and sentimental about it. I suppose I should feel the stress of it and the crowds in it as nerve-wracking, people so often murky and almost rude as depressing, its cold winter weather and the unbearable heat of the summer as unsuitable, but I can’t. I love the rain and the wind, I love the swearwords and the groans, I love the subtle dance through the sidewalks and the metro exits in the rush-hours. Most of all – I love its perpetually bubbling chaos which represents to me nothing less than pure excitement and life at its fullest. And that just may truly be inexplicable.