Thursday, 18 June 2015

Allons-y, Paris!

Last week I had a work meeting in Paris: after 3 days of work, I added an extra day of holiday, the weekend and voilà! 6 days in Paris, and half of those days were for me and me only.

I love Paris, I love how everything looks so much more romantic, smarter and charming in this city.
I love the fact it's a massive pot of cultural references that seem to sprout out of every single corner; photography, art, literature, history, cinema and theater: you name it, you find it there, each reference inexorably linked to one another, so that walking along its street sometimes feels to me as jumping from one Wikipedia hyperlink to another.

But Paris, to me, is also a catalyst of painful memories and negative feelings: betrayals and disappointments, lessons learnt the hard way. Because it's been a long time since the last time I stayed in Paris for more than a day, I had no chance to form new memories, so the sad ones cemented in and it had become difficult for me to think about the city without some bittersweetness and it got harder and harder not feeling upset.
I needed new memories of Paris, not to delete the sadness of the painful ones, but to counterbalance them. I wanted to be able to look around me without feeling just completely miserable.

And that's what I did the last weekend. Mixing old places and new places I walked around town, sometimes with purpose, most of the time aimlessly, sporting a bad French mitigated by a smile, as it's so much easier to smile when I'm away. 
I decided to return to some of my favorite spots, starting from breakfast at Florence Kahn:


Linzertorte and tea is pretty much the best way I can imagine to start a day in Paris: the street of Marais are still quiet around 10, most of the shops are still opening, some delivery trucks pass by, and sitting outside one can watch the world passing by slowly.

And then I went to Musée d'Orsay:


This time around, however, the crowd of people snapping photo after photo at the paintings without bothering to stop to look at them didn't bother me (as much) as it did the last time I visited the museum. Maybe I'm just more cynical, or I grew used to it, or I just learnt to care a bit less about human insanity, but I spent a good half a day inside, going from room to room, going up and down the floors, always returning in front of Vincent's self-portrait, staring at those eyes and thinking about his stars.

I walked a lot along the Seine, chilled and knitted in the garden of Rodin Museum, paid more attention at the stencils scattered on the walls than to the Eiffel Tower. I got new memories to treasure now, with a new soundtrack linked to them.
I was alone, yet didn't feel so.

The things that left me really puzzled was the staggering amount of lockets on the rails of basically every single bridge of Paris: lockets of every shape and form, lockets locket to other lockets, people trying to sell you a locket at every single corner.


"Lock love and throw the key": maybe he was right when he told me I'm not able to love or maybe I'm really that stone hearted person I'm so often accused of being, it became so easy for me to believe.  Yet, in my whole unromantic self, I can't think of anything more unromantic and unlovely that locking your love with a cheap piece of metal design to rust and throw the key in a dirty and polluted river.

Having said this, I have to admit that when I spotted this locket in Montmartre:

Well, a whole different train of thoughts started in my mind with different hypothesis on its meaning, on the how, why, when and, above all, who.

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