Friday, July 03, 2009

Je Regrette Paris.


Picture is of an early morning street around the corner from the small hotel on the Left Bank in Paris.
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I’m finally writing about Paris. I wanted to be sure, you see. Sure of my feelings around this trip of 8 days to Paris which was an addendum to the 9 days in Dublin. A dream, right? Well, not for me. I was ready to leave her after 3 days. Really. So lock me up. I may need my head read.

The picture above shows exactly how I felt there. Empty. Wanting to be back here. Or in Ireland. Anywhere but Paris. But I pretended to my friend. Who doesn’t read this blog and has no interest in my writing. I said to her it was wonderful. How great to be back there. But I should have left my Paris memories of 40 years ago alone. Not open up that lovely Gauloise and Chanel scented box and toss all the mementoes on to the rubbish heap.

I was bored. There I said it. Bored. Me. Yes, the Musee D’Orsay was beautiful, I dutifully snapped photos, visited all the paintings and sculptures. The weather was gorgeous. The food, h’m..alright. I ho-hummed cruising the Seine, walking the Champs. All the while mouthing, well, white lies. Thing is I’m never bored. Ever. But when with someone else and I feel obliged to pretend, the sound of my own voice ringing falsely in my ears gets boring. How could I tell her? It’s her favourite city in the whole wide world. She could stay there forever. She likes to pretend she’s a real Parisienne. I’m a tourist there and anxious to get home whether to Ireland or to Newfoundland. I live in beauty all the time. I do not have to seek it elsewhere. Would that be the reason?

And everything was so, so expensive and I was just beginning to resent that by the time I left. Why spend huge money on something you’re not enjoying? Several thousand dollars all told. That I would have loved to have spent in Ireland.

Paris, Schmaris.

There. I’ve said it. Out loud.

20 comments:

  1. A shame it didn't reflect your memories of so long ago. But there's no point in pretending you've enjoyed somewhere when you didn't. I haven't been to Paris since I was a kid - perhaps I should treasure the memory but not return.

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  2. I've only been to Paris once, when I was 39 years old, all on my own, and was a little bit intimidated by it, though I knew and realized I was in a special place, but I was too discombobulated to appreciate it properly and always said I would go back, but haven't up to now.

    At the time, I didn't appreciate what I was looking at. I saw the Notre Dame, inside and out, and didn't feel all that special, neither did the Seine make me feel all that different, nor the bridges over it. The Eiffel Tower didn't move me, nor did the Louvre. The only thing I really liked was the Metro and buying coffee and croissants at the the little cafés and having dinner once on the Left Bank. I liked walking around the ordinary streets where I didn't need to be impressed with anything.

    I think you're supposed to be in love and go to Paris with the person you're in love with. But mind you, I'm seldom impressed with the things that other people rave about. I'm always so very underwhelmed.

    Maybe we suffer from the same condition, the inability to be overwhelmed by what the crowd likes.

    XOX
    Irene

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  3. I never like revisiting a place with very special memories for fear of breaking the spell.

    I did go to Paris twice and neither time with a lover. To me it was just another City, I did enjoy it while there but other smaller places left more of an impression on me.

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  4. this is a brave post! and it's good to know what you love. you are so clearly not someone who loves what people think you ought to love; you have your own mind.

    i loved paris. loved every minute there. i will always think of it as a place absolutely steeped in beauty. but it doesn't call me back the way other places do.

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  5. Nick:
    And it's also a city of lovers and youth and people that are "on". Promenading in the Luxembourg. Like a movie set. On my previous trip I was swept up in all of that. This time not at all. Perhaps you need to leave your last trip sacrosanct?
    XO
    WWW

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  6. yes, Irene, I hear you. The off the beaten track stuff has more appeal for people like you and me. I felt guilty pretending I was swept up when I wasn't. Not at all. I get swept up by mountains and ocean and nature. Paris felt very unreal. As if everyone was acting their part and the food was really quite awful. And expensive.
    XO
    WWW

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  7. GM:
    Yes I'm with you on that. Quebec City did more for me than Paris. Also San Francisco. And I love the towns of West Cork and our wonderful St. John's here. Sometimes we just can't return.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. Laurie:
    It is almost too beautiful. Too perfect. And maybe oversold. I'm so happy you liked it, like I did the first time around. It has never called me, like other places have.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Give me Ireland, I have never been but the pictures I have seen call my soul to come. I have Irish, English, German and Native American blood but nothing seems to call me like Ireland.

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  10. It's 25 years since I was there last. Hubby & I had run out of money, we stayed in the Young & Happy Youth Hostel for $8 a night and ate white bread rolls and crepes for 3 days. We walked the entire city because we couldn't afford transport. It was fun. Maybe it's best to see when you are young, penniless and easily impressed.

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  11. Sad that you didn't get full value of enjoyment from your vacation, WWW. Paris has never attracted me. I spent most of a day there on the way back from a trip to the Loire Valley (alone) in 1969. Didn't see much to impress or prompt me to return. I accept that I'm a bit of a Philistine in this, however. ;-)

    Rome is my dream city, but haven't been back since the 60s and wouldn't dare go again in case it breaks the dream.

    It's so good that you feel exactly right, exactly where you live.
    :-)

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  12. Gail:
    I do hope you get there some day, it is a magical land especially on the west coast.
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Deb:
    That was me the first time, I think Paris needs to be seen just by the young and awestruck, not the jaded and cynical!!
    XO
    WWW

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  14. T:
    Maybe I'm more one for the off the beaten track stuff. Even though I do love the energy of cities. Paris, this time around, seemed very distant, removed almost. Hard to explain.
    I would dread going back to Venice for the same reason so should leave all that alone!!
    XO
    WWW

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  15. I lived in Normandy for a year in the late '60s, visited Paris a few times then and I can't say I loved it but it was certainly OK. There were parts of it that were more than OK, but for me it probably had more to do with the people I knew there.

    I can certainly imagine not loving Paris. I'd have a hard time with pretending to love it for the sake of a companion, so you just go ahead and vent, get it off your chest!

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  16. Forget Paris, eh?

    Perhaps it's so overhyped it struggles to live up to the hype.

    Or perhaps it's just become a bit too much like everywhere else and lost its once-exotic sophisticated air.

    I've never been yet, but cannot say it is top of my list to visit. Yes you sound like you already live amongst all the beauty you can shake a stick at and it would be the artisans that would draw you to Paris rather than anything else.

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  17. Don't feel bad. There's a difference between the Paris of our dreams, what we expected - and what we experienced. Real life is about people, not cities. Places are important because of the people who were important to us there. So I remember Salford because I lived there, and my childhood friends were there - but where is Salford on the tourist map? We know where we belong. The rest is a place where go on holiday. I could never belong in Paris, or Berlin, or New York. I've no roots there. I have difficulties enough with London where I've lived for 40years.

    Your being bored in Paris has cheered me up immensely.
    OF

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  18. Annie:
    Thank you for understanding and so well!
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Laura:
    Absolutely. I was in a few art supply shops there and really enjoyed puttering around. Also in Shakespeare and Co. Small things. People and artisan things. The other stuff is just kitsch.
    XO
    WWW

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  20. OF:
    Yes, we do know where we belong, how true, and travelling reinforces it all. I had no roots in Newfoundland when I moved here but the roots I have now are the strongest I've ever felt in my life. Paris just reinforced that for me. It was like being on a movie set (unpaid!)
    XO
    WWW

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