Paris is an obsession which one friend calls “the yearning that never heals”
The fact is that Paris makes me grin with pleasure every time I visit it.
Each time I enter the city from Charles De Gaulle airport passing the ivory beauty of Sacré Coeur perched on Montmartre on the right I feel the same frisson of excitement. By the time the taxi has cruised round the Arc de Triomphe, down the clunking cobbled chaos of the Champs Elysees and curved round the Place de la Concorde and is on the bridge heading towards the Assemblée Nationale I’m in my own happy little movie and I want to yell “Halloooo Paris” out the window.
I’m sawing my head right and left to capture both sides of the view up the Seine river towards the Louvre and the other way towards the Eiffel tower and the gilded bridge of Alexandre III. Oh the Ponts of Paris are just so mesmeric!
The glimpses up the Seine are over in a second but not before I’ve given myself a silent happy chirrup for being here and being able to see all of it again and again and again.
Then we’re on the Left Bank and gliding past the Haussmannian limestone apartments and the ubiquitous wrought iron balconies and the Parisians walking, cycling, driving to work and my taxi driver is joking with me about life in Paris compared to life in Australia with all those kangaroos…..
That always raises their eyebrows. Naughty of me to spoil their own little fantasy about life in the empty vastness of Oz where the Australian and the Kangaroo roam wild and free in harmony. It’s fun to see the looks on their faces as they imagine so many damn kangaroos bounding around Australia that there is no room left for humans. The country must be alive with these magnificent creatures…… and they kill them??
Parisian taxi drivers are quick to tell me their realities of life in Paris – a far cry from the euphoria I’m quietly feeling inside. Life for many Parisians is not easy and I hear many a taxi driver confession as I sit ecstatically in the back of their car, yearning for a shower with my post-flight long-haul swollen feet, my aeroplane flattened hair, my body aged from having spent 24 plus hours in the foetal position in an economy seat and a face that could crack mirrors it is so flight-ravaged.
I don’t care. I’m in Paris and it’s just so nice to listen to anyone speaking better French than I.
Often I sit there fascinated because the driver has revealed a new grammatical construct: “Ahhh, that’s the way you say that…” I ponder absently as he reveals some new insight into la vie d’un chauffeur de taxi à Paris. I’ve learned many a useful turn of phrase from my charming chauffeurs; another bonus to being in not only this most magic of cities, but hearing the most poetic symphonic of languages too.
It’s the history, the memories,
Which is ironic, considering France’s history is peppered with horror and bloodshed. Their beautiful Anthem shrieks of slitting throats, tearing of mothers’breasts, soaking fields with impure blood etc…
the cutesy street scenes of baker’s vans,
men on bikes with baguettes,
Despite the fact that it is a dream,
It never fails