by - July 07, 2019

Mini Travel Series: Paris is always a good idea 

The city of love and romance, or so they say. Less than 3 hours away from London and the perfect getaway. A city full of oxymoron, beautiful and enchanting all while murky and snooty. A peculiar setting that is both easily to fall in and out of love of. 

Before visiting Paris, I vicariously experienced Paris through Christian Dior, the film Midnight in Paris and through Carrie Bradshaw’s stay in Paris. It was magical and charming, with a magnificent architectural backdrop in every scene of these videos. Though admittedly Carrie Bradshaw’s depiction and interpretation of Paris was the most realistic one I have experienced; minus the extravagant shopping, the falling inside Dior’s Avenue Montaigne and the luxurious hotel room, though I have fallen similarly to Carrie…inside Chanel’s Maison in New Bond Street, London. But that story is for another day. 

Carrie fantasized about the city for so long, heard the tales of its romance, the fashion and art complimented through Gothic style & Art Nouveau architecture and interior. She succeeded in manifesting that vision of Paris and experience it, however her bubble was erupted by the reality of language barriers, impatient (at times unfriendly) locals and stepping into dog poop. Causing her to feel isolated and bored whilst simultaneously going through homesickness. But then, Carrie moved to Paris to live in Paris, so my experience was certainly not parallel to hers, only a short-lived version. With that that said, I have visited the city five times already and sometimes long to visit it again for a short getaway; emphasis on the word short. I will not taint your picture of Paris, but I will not offer you a grandiose and unrealistic portrayal of the city either. Nor am I going to offer locations, destinations or city tips; there are far too many online and in print. But I hope to just inspire you a little to visit Paris. I believe that travelling should be allowing ourselves to naturally immerse in what the city has to offer; authentically and organically. 

I have to admit that though most tourist visit the obvious destination, in Paris, I can never get enough of these 3 locations: Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Avenue Montaigne. Every single trip to Paris includes these 3 locations, they never fail to amaze me. Though I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower five times, I have had not the courage to go up (fear of heights and fear of waiting in long queues, it’s complicated). But I would encourage you to, she’s a beauty. I still get giddy when I see her shimmering hourly from sunset to 1am (2am during summer). She’s the most beautiful before midnight, where most of the city is fast asleep, you can feel the serenity of the silence, some wandering tourists waiting for the clock to strike midnight standing by Trocadero whilst few small wagons sell refreshments according to season. The Eiffel Tower puts on a show for 5 minutes, captivating her spectators, once that is done, walking down to see her up-close ends the night beautifully. That’s reliving a scene in the film ‘Midnight in Paris’, imagining the presence of the great artists such as Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali. In my vision, Christian Dior is included (still wandering why he wasn’t included in the film when he was already friends with those artists…?)

There are numerous art galleries and museums that I really appreciate in Paris; roughly 130 across the city and I sadly only visited four of them. However, my favorite remains to be the Louvre at night. Friday night’s opening hours until 9pm, avoiding the crowed and enjoying the peace and art the museum has to offer. I once had the Mona Lisa all to myself, was able to see her up close (as close as it gets) and realise that she is quite overrated in comparison to the magnificent paintings just on the hallway next door…I have a background music in my head whilst roaming around the rooms inside the Louvre; Sympathique by Pink Martini. I’d add Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris to one of the museums to visit. It celebrates the creations of the designer in an intimate setting without the distractions of anything else that isn’t YSL. It feels more of a home than a museum, which makes visitors feel like they are visiting the designer’s home.  

In terms of eating and drinking, there is a variety of French cuisine across the city, mostly hidden away from main highstreets. You do not want to eat out around touristic destinations, as most restaurants are overpriced, chains and generic tasting dishes. I personally loved Bistrot Victoires, District Corner, Dépôt Légal and the café Bert’s. There are many more of course, but these ones made my heart feel warm. 

When visiting Paris, most people go wearing rose tinted sunglasses; not quite literally. It’s love at first sight with what we see; Parisian class. The love many have with Paris is an infatuation, adventurous and short lived one. Travelling is like flirting with life, as said by Lisa St Aubin de Teran “I would stay and love you, but I have to go”. I myself feel in trance with the city’s charm, delicious pastries, pretty little streets and enchanting corner restaurants/cafes. However, here’s a gentle reminder that we tourist don’t live the truth of the locals, nor does our ways of experiencing the city reflect the locals’ ways of living. I’m an optimist, full of love, life and hope but a down to earth realist that acknowledges my privileges. My love affair with Paris lasts two days and then I miss home; London.  As for Parisian fashion, I need to leave that for another day. 

(First photograph by Rongji Sun, all other photography by Zinah Nur Sharif)

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