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Literally falling in Love with Paris

My arrival to Paris CDG airport was less of a touchdown than it was a head over heels tumbling into the city of lights.  I didn’t know what hit me, but something had and now it was up to me to figure out how to get back up. Alone and despondent is the worst combination possible. Yet it can also happen in Paris, which is perhaps worse.

For 3 days I was confined, against my will,  in my 6th floor, rented Parisian apartment, in Les Halles. I finally decided to not stay in the apartment feeling sorry for myself and venture down. I made a plan -I’ll get a Sim card for my phone, go to a Pharmacy and find out if they can explain to me the cause of this unrelenting dizziness.

I walk down that staircase so slowly.  It was beautiful and warm outside.  August in Paris.  A gentle summer by comparison to Australian summers. The pace of people walking made me spin.  Parisians are power walkers even in heels. I moved even slower .. my stepping was not good, I stumbled.  Embarrassment in the city of grace was not part of the plan.

Once downstairs, the pharmacist told me I was suffering from “mal de debarquement“. This is the illusion of movement felt as an after effect of travel. People experience this very physical illusion of movement almost immediately after the event has stopped. The sensation usually resolves within 24 hours. In all my years of  travel, I’d never experienced nor heard of such a thing. It seemed all I had to do was be patient and wait.

I spotted the post office. The floor sank and shifted with each step, but I manage to still myself long enough to read the signage indicating that they sell Sim cards . Great. I went in and put to the test my 2nd attempt at a french conversation as learnt online, with actual French people, live.  I struggled.  But they were very patient, polite, incredibly kind. Eventually they understood me and I understood what their offers are for phone plans. We come to an agreement, money and correct change is exchanged.

Next…. familiarising myself with my “neighbourhood”.  Les Halles, is very colorful! Everyone is very nice, very happy. I hear “bonjour madame” as I pass, uttered in very polite almost genteel tones, with a slight bow of the head. It’s surreal. Some  men say oolala and it’s funny cause it’s so cliche, at the same time kind of charming. I’m not used to compliments, but that oolala makes me smile. I start to feel visible.

However the dizziness I’m experiencing, becomes increasingly overwhelming. I figure it’s best if I take out my camera and look like a tourist, that way I can walk as slowly as I want with the excuse of taking photos. Et voila.  I was determined to be guided by my curiosity and discover the magic of this city, whose spell I was under, figuratively and literally.

I inhaled Paris so deeply through my eyes and emotions unlike ever before in my life.  And through conversations,  which piece by piece moulded my understanding of this city, and gave it its hues and contrasts beyond what appears to be shades of grey and beige.

Wherever I went, no matter how bad my spoken French was, I spoke to people.  My favourite questions, based on the responses I got, being:
“What do you love about Paris?
What is the real Paris for you, as you live it?”
Everyone’s answers varied, except in one regard, and that was to emphasise that there was more to Paris than met the eye -usually of the tourist’s eye-.  The real Paris exists behind heavy doors that require special combinations to enter, and to which most do not have access.  The real Paris exists in the streets tourists never visit because their travel agent didn’t recommend it for their -3 day Paris stay,  see all of Europe in 2 weeks- holiday.
Above all ..Paris is a city for those who Love Life.
It is not about what is done as HOW it is done
It must be chic. It must be belle. It must be lived intensely.
Paris is intolerant of the inauthentic, unresponsive, insentient.
I could feel this atmosphere waking me up from my previous suburban lull of conformity. My eye was being trained to seek and appreciate beauty in a way I’d never done before. In this city where detail mattered, the beauty in each detail elevated the senses beyond expectations.
If you’re open to it, it will transform and heal your heart… much as sitting in a tropical rainforest listening to birds would…at least that was how I experienced it…. with a completely conscious, awakening soul.
The “Parisian Way” is about how you see beauty, in people, in art, in food, in music, in architecture, in history …en fin…in Life!
I saw it everywhere fully manifesting, bold, unafraid to exist. Determined not only to be visible, but to be felt deeply by all who step into this city, who are left no option but to surrender.
This city, is so intensely, mesmerisingly beautiful. I decided that my dizziness was the effect of falling in love with it.  If so, I don’t want anyone to catch me. I want to keep on falling, forever, more deeply, in love….

 

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