What is Paris Known for
What is Paris famous for? It is a beautiful city whose name is known across the world. The City of Love. The City of Light. A city where intimacy is always in question. Best known for its museums, monuments, and architecture full of history from every era. This city attracts millions of tourists each year who yearn to experience the incredible culture and taste some of the delicacies like hand-crafted baguettes, escargot, and wine. However, Paris is so much more than this.
As an American living in a small suburb coming to Paris to work, I had expectations of a beautiful yet very busy city. There was much more greenery than I expected, fewer cars, and way more people. I have never lived in a city, so to see so many flowers, gardens, and parks was an unexpected surprise in the best way. Nevertheless, I heard a lot of stereotypes about Parisians before coming, and they worried me. ‘Parisians are unkind’, ‘They don’t like Americans’, and ‘No one will be willing to help you’.
For me, this has been the furthest thing from the truth.
In high school, I studied French for 4 years, and one more semester in college, but I am nowhere near fluent. However, I am fairly rusty because there aren’t many people to have conversations with, but I have been using it every day since I have come here. I have found as long as you always say ‘Bonjour’, and try to speak French, Parisians are kind.
In every boulangerie, brasserie, and café, I speak in French and though it is not perfect, everyone has been patient. I am learning more every day and becoming more proficient.
I have yet to see many museums, but I have seen some famous monuments and a lot of beautiful architecture. These however are not the reason I have fallen in love with Paris. As an American who lives in the woods, I have fallen in love with the atmosphere, the restaurants and cafés, the late-night lifestyle, and the questionable intimacy of it all. And no, I don’t mean on the metro during rush hour.
The concept of intimacy though, is quite contradictory. Intimacy is famous in Paris, yet it is found nowhere in Paris.
Intimacy in Paris
The intimacy of meals and going out is what makes me fall the hardest. Tables less than a foot away from one another, no one in a rush, just relaxing and enjoying others’ company.
In the U.S. servers rush you in and out of restaurants, and most time there is a time limit. Every restaurant I have been to in Paris, takes time, and I don’t mind, it’s a more relaxed situation where no one is waiting for you to finish.
Asking for the waiter to bring you the check because don’t come to your table every 5 minutes to ‘check-in’, I have found admirable. People sit at tables for hours, drinking and talking, with dinner starting around 8 p.m. You could be out until midnight or later, and no one bats an eye.
Intimacy is taken away yet given at the same time with Parisian seating arrangements. You have dinner with your friends close to your neighbors who can listen to your conversation and who might chime in, yet you have dinner one on one, being so close to other tables is intimate in a way.
The Beauty of It
I see the intimacy of Paris everywhere, both good and bad. There is beauty engraved into this city. Paris is famous for being a dense city, intimacy is always in question.
The way people go to museums to connect to art and artists, there is the intimacy you can’t get from seeing the pieces online, or in a photograph.
I see it in the families spending time in Le Jardin du Luxembourg. Although you barely have any because of how crowded it gets the minute the sun comes out.
The group of friends drinking in a bar that fits no more than 20 people. Although you won’t be able to ignore those having a conversation right behind you.
The families walking on the Coulée Verte René-Dumont. Although you have to step to the side for them to pass because the walkway is too small for everyone to get by at once.
The couple sitting in the park behind the Château de Versailles, resting from their ride. Though their intimacy is both embodied and broken with this photograph, they may never know.