Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Paris, Paris

 Yesterday V said, I am afraid I don't find Paris as romantic as you do.

 I'm reading pre-trip David Downie's Paris, Paris Journey into the City of Light insightful, informative indepth essays. After 20+ years living in Paris, Downie evokes Parisian atmosphere with facts and personal stories not romantic fluff.
Bear does not view Paris through rose-colored glasses either by the way.
 I loved Downie's chapter on les bouquinistes - the booksellers along the Seine. There are about 240 bouquinistes in Paris. Mostly the bookstalls are past on from one generation to the next. One fourth-generation bookseller tells Downie, 
"I was born on this sidewalk".
 The wait list to get a spot is usually 80 names long and it takes four years to get your first placement - always in a lousy location, says Downie.
 Life certainly isn't romantic for the bouquinists - out in all kinds of inclement weather and often not making a single book sale. Their 'moneymakers' are those souvenirs of Paris - I admit buying many French wine bottle fridge magnets from them..ahem
 Photo by Alison Harris from Paris, Paris
 The chapter on Paris dogs and their upkeep had me enthralled. Downie says, the statistics on the number of dogs in Paris varies wildly, from 150,000 to nearly 500,000 (the capitol's human population is 2.2 million).
 'France has an estimated 3,000 canine beauty salons, hundreds of them in Paris...the dog salon trade is booming'. Why does this come as no surprise? French butchers do not carry 'scraps' for dogs. 'Only filets, rib steaks, ground round...' Not surprising either...
 What I refered to as mini-monuments like the Wallace Fountains, are rightly called 'street furniture' in Paris, Paris.
 Every street lamp, kiosk, bollard, Colonne Morris (that we love to romantize) that make Paris Paris for us, has their origins often from the Hausmannian period. These charming icons were designed 'as elements of a complex system of barriers and signage whose purpose is to restrain, thwart and redirect unruly natives, Downie tells us. Who knew?
 Designing street furniture is an ongoing process with Philippe Starck's history 'shovels'/panels histoire de Paris and Norman Foster's glassy bus shelters, now copied worldwide.
 One very 'romantic museum I love but haven't told you about yet is mentioned in Paris, Paris - Gustave Moreau house 14, rue de la Rouchefoucauld 75009. The very top floor, up these winding steps holds a treasure chest of original drawings and watercolors you can page through yourself unattended - they're encased in revolving glass doors. 
 No way will Downie's book leave you feeling unromantic about Paris, just better informed about many mysteries.
After all the Parisians are just as infatuated with their town as the rest of us...


  1. Still, hard not to fall in love with it, eh? It's such a lovely city

  2. I find that the cities/countries I love, I don't romanticize them. I am all too well aware of their faults, the inconveniences. I might become irritable w/those who criticize (overly)...but I really become annoyed with only fluff. A good fluff to serious ratio is necessary for optimal enjoyment:)

    Thanks for the links...

  3. One of the romantic and practical things I do almost every night is walk with my friend Nancy and her dog Leah around the block, for Leah's "constitutional."
    With all those many dogies walking around Paris, are Frenchies required to clean up after them?

  4. I never romanticize Paris. Until I started reading your blog I never knew or really liked Paris, but now I love it. Reading the Greater Journey by D. McCullouch made me come to understand the facination with it and the hardships and struggles there. This book sounds like something I am going to have to read. Thanks for keeping us in tune with Paris.

  5. Yes, French Girl did say it, but she still loves Paris, where she lived for 10 years and returns every year. To be fair, here is her quote, put back in context ;-): "These pictures make me both excited to return to my homeland and sooooo tired... I have known many early morning arrivals over the last 16 years. I am afraid I don't find them as romantic as you do, especially that bus ride in the drizzle on l'autoroute and le périphérique. In the end, however, it is all worth it, and the price to pay to spend time at home, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world."

  6. Paris. Paris will fix all your computer stress, lovely.

  7. Parisbreakfast starts me on my day and I really do feel as if I had breakfast in Paris...
    Sue in FL

  8. I love the "Dog's Life" photo :)
    Your shot of that spiral staircase is fabulous.
    Maybe if I lived in Paris it wouldn't seem so romantic - but as a "spectator", it certainly seems to be a great city.

  9. It's just endlessly fascinating, Paris. (I also adore that dog's life photo!)

  10. It's TOO LATE!!! Nothing you can write and nothing anyone else writes can remove the rose colored glasses you have placed on my eyes when it comes to Paris! It would probably require a very bad trip there to remove the rose-coloreds. But I bet a bad grip to Paris beats an ordinary day at home!

  11. Interesting post and sounds like a good read.
    Enjoy your trip, and now you can have what I am eating Hhaa!!
    Carla x

  12. I think it takes a few trips and a few really enriching experiences to move from the "OMG Paris is divine and perfect!!!" mindset to really deeply loving the place.

    So looking forward to the inspiration you'll share when you're there!

  13. Gustave Moreau's House is very interesting...and did you know that he was one of Matisse's teachers. That photo of GD is soooooo did you do the little red arrow thingy? A bientot.

    1. The red arrow thingies are very crudely drawn in everyday PAINT program on my PC Monique.
      Nothing fancy at all.


Love hearing from you