In past France Journal entries, I have often referred to Paris as a ‘living breathing museum’. The simple fact is that one cannot imagine its beauty without actually experiencing it in person. While it is easy to capture the beauty of a statue in the park with the Eiffel Tower majestically hovering in the background, it is quite impossible to impart the absolute magnificence of stumbling upon that very same park and statue as one navigates the chaos of traffic and pedestrians. You are suddenly struck by, not just its beauty, but the fact that it has been holding this space for decades and in many cases, centuries. This peaceful oasis of green grass and sleeping trees bringing solace to anyone who enters through the wrought iron gates, which seem to hold at bay all the noises and stresses of the city which surround it.
Obviously there are the larger monuments which we have all seen – The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, The Arc du Triumph, etc. Each is spectacular to see up close and from afar. However, there are other places to see which can only be experienced in person while walking through the criss crossing streets and allowing yourself to get lost. Whether it is a church that has served its parrish for centuries but now stands quiet and relatively empty as its inhabitants have moved on or simply wanned in their beliefs. Or the stone bridge that spans the Seine with its beautiful arches giving it strength against the powerful currents of the river. Everything seems curated with nothing random. And while this might lead you to think that it would be stale or forced, it is really just the opposite. There is something so wonderfully organic in the way the French approach the beauty of their city. I would swear that the city gardeners are direct descendents of the gardeners who served Louis XIV in creating the Jardins du Versailles. Each blade of grass, every flower in perfect place and cared for with the utmost of concern. It brings a blissfulness to those who witness their majestic vignettes in time and space, transporting you from the present to a sometimes distant, yet elegant past.
I hope that the photos that accompany today’s post will do some justice to the places they represent. Enjoy them and hopefully someday soon you will be able to experience them in their full glory with your own eyes.