Paris in the Pre-Springtime

Sarah Broach Issue: Section:

all photographs taken on a cell phone during the in-between moments of Paris fashion week



I started traveling to Paris in 1994. Two to four times a year, depending. I took a break from 1999 to 2004 when Paris was replaced with Milan, but since then Paris has been back in my life. She can be a tough city to love when you aren't simply a tourist visiting La Tour Eiffel and getting financially stung on a boat ride along the Seine. Working vs. vacationing gives a different vantage point and
at this point I can only believe that Parisians do not believe they are there to make your life easy.

They say it takes Paris seven years to accept you and a few ex-pat friends can testify to that, but they have persevered regardless.
For a long time I didn't understand why, but after all these years of visiting, something has begun to shift in me and I think I am beginning to understand or at least accept and respect the Parisians for the culture they have and very much own.

Paris has to be one of the most romantic cities on earth. I could stare up at the Notre Dame on the edge of the Seine for hours. Looking down on the city from the Sacre Coeur makes one's heart flit.

The culture is (frustratingly) strong. You can never forget where you are, whether you're stepping in the endless dog shit that the
sable coat-wearing lady nonchalantly lets her scrappy looking poodle leave behind or savoring the beurre demi sel that makes you not care about dying young. Of course the wine is great, whatever you buy at whatever price, though I am sure a Parisian would disagree with me, bien sur. They do love daily confrontation and treating you
with complete disdain as often as possible.

There is a quality to the food and the flower shops especially that I adore. The proprietors are so knowledgable and passionate about what they sell, almost not wanting to part with what you pick. Lavender cordial, mini cucumbers, edible fleurs, exotic cooking oils, caviar and foie gras line shelves like canned tuna and jars of mustard do in New York.

There are ancient churches on every corner, crammed in on the tiniest streets. You turn the corner and your breath is taken by a gothic church suddenly looming down over you. And then there's the way the Parisians dress. I adore how people of all ages dress, chic from birth to 100+ years old. Not necessarily on trend, but considered. Shoes are polished and in good condition, hosiery, neck scarves, rain coats, umbrellas. They have poise. It feels they take the time to make sure their daily norms and standards are appropriately in place. They don't stress or rush. They take lunch every day.

Women's lingerie ads on the side of the bus stops in Paris would be illegal in the U.S. The generally relaxed approach towards sex and nudity is lovely. Sex shop after sex shop on rue St Denis with droves of school children walking by, seeming completely unbothered by the obscenity of it all.

Anyway, that's my take on Paris right now. No doubt it is a city with intense racial problems, an apathetic work force and an annoying level of snobbery towards all, but she doesn't really give a fuck and I am beginning not to either.

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