Paris, I owe you an apology.
I’ll be honest with you. I came here with a romantic idea that I would find myself in the Paris of Hemingway and the Lost generation. The Paris of Voltaire and all the romance that comes with the Eiffel Tower and the Phantom of the Opera and all those places that have been shown in Hollywood movies over and over again. So again I apologize for my idea of who you were supposed to be.
When I came to Paris my first day I spent doing all the touristy things that are expected, and I couldn’t help but notice how the city is in dire need of a power wash. All these amazing monuments are covered with years if not maybe decades of dirt, and it gives the city a gritty feel. A lot of the buildings are in different stages of decay or maintenance and that includes your great churches like Sacré-Cœur .
The city of love – yeah I ain’t feeling it. So once again I apologize for my own misconceptions on who you were supposed to be. I guess you don’t get to be like New York City that after a life-changing event like 9/11 gets to reinvent itself and come out stronger and more badass than before. For some reason, Paris has to stay the eternal city of romance and it’s not allowed to change. Yet, the Paris I met is gritty, hardened, strong and beautiful.
So if you’re ever in Paris, by all means, do all the touristy things, get your selfie’s with the Eiffel Tower – but also, discover the neighbourhoods and embrace the wonderful, multicultural flavour that is now modern Paris. Allow yourself to embrace this modern city that was built upon the ego of men. You can see that everywhere from your Palais Garnier with its “look at me, look at me” columns and the Arc de Triomphe; a tribute to Napoleon’s own vanity. Or even the Pantheon, with its grand inscription: “For our great men, from a grateful homeland.” (Only two women currently buried there: Marie Curie and Sophie Berthelot).
It’s my opinion that you do yourself a disservice if you don’t allow yourself to experience the new Paris, which is just as iconic as I thought it would be.