Friday, November 18, 2005

Paris en Feu - Paris on Fire

I cannot ignore what happened in Paris lately even though I'm quite late talking about this.

And no, I'm not going to discuss this politically, socially, or any other ally.

In fact, I've changed my mind and I'm not going to discuss this at all. It's hard enough to see the images, to see Gais Paris like that, that all need for words is gone.

I've never been. It's true. I've been to many places but never to Paris. And I've had so many different excuses each time. Perhaps I was afraid of shattering a dream. Perhaps Paris seemed so magical that I didn't want to ruin that image. Beautiful Paris, with its chateaux, palaces, museums, street monuments and restaurants. Romantic and unattainable.

Well... no longer. That image is now ruined and while Paris remains beautiful, the mystical aura I gave it is no longer there.

Maybe I will visit Paris after all. And maybe sooner than I ever imagined. I think I'm ready.

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Stranger Ken said...

You should definitely go and while you're there visit the San Francisco Book Co. It's a wonderful little bookshop selling second-hand books in English and it's in Rue Monsieur Le Prince, near Odeon Metro and the Luxembourg Gardens. I love Paris. If I could swing it, I'd live there, but ... I was there after the riots in 1968 and I shall be there for a week from 28th November. Why not just hop on a 'plane?

Melly said...

November 28th you say???

Well, that's fantastic - have fun!

I'll definitely keep your suggestions in mind for when I do finally get to Paris. Thanks.

Yzabel said...

One thing to keep in mind: there's been a serious media hype around all of this, especially coming from US sources. The view we cast on it in France is much more different, and we're far from living in a battlefield torn by civil war, like some sources tended to make it appear. Really, Paris hasn't changed much. It's still the Louvre and the Tuileries, the Quartier St-Michel is still full of students, and the places that have been reached by the riots were already "sensitive areas" before that. It's nothing "new" in itself. It just happened over a short timeframe, which made it look extreme. Personnally, I'm more worried about the state of emergency that is going to last in spite of the situation having quieted down, because it's a nasty precedent.

Two friends of mine who teach French in Japan posted to their blogs this morning, and said they had to answer many questions from their students, who'd ask if they were frightened for their families, didn't dare go back to their country.... The situation is/was nothing like that; most of the country didn't even have to cope with more violence than usual.

This said, there are nice little places in Paris, and what I find the most interesting aren't the monuments, it's often these little corners lost in less-known streets. The comic-books shop, the quiet little creperie where you're allowed to draw on the tableclothes and they even pin them to the wall if the drawings are nice... (If only I could remember the name of the street! I can go to there with my eyes closed, but I can never remember the names. Gah.)

Melly said...

Dearest Yzabel, don't you worry. I've been to places that the media considered "war zones". I know exactly what it's like and don't take the media too seriously. I've been to Israel during the constant terror attacks, I've been in Palestinian towns and I've been in Toronto during SARS. It's never the same as the media makes it to be.

It's just that for you, Paris is a place like any other. For me Paris was always a magical place I only dreamed of, almost unreal. These recent riots did shatter some of that dream. I'm sure Paris is still as beautiful, and if anything, now you've gained a tourist, because now I'm ready to visit. I hope I explained myself better. I guess that no place in the world is perfect just like no person is perfect.

Maybe I should tell you about the Vancouver riots in 1994 that were caused by a loss of the Vancouver team in Hockey. When I went to work the next day and saw the shattered store windows and the littered streets I was stunned. We all were. The bus was silent, I remember, as we drove through the downtown area. That's what a metropolitan is like, right?

Did I make myself clearer?
I hope.