Many people will tell you that Paris is their favorite city to visit. It’s splendor and magnificence are evidenced in the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs-Élysées as well as the incredible artwork, language, and pastries. And while all this is true, I’ve found Paris’ appeal to not come from the obvious, touristy attractions, but rather from the quaint, beautiful, everyday aspects of the city.
That is where this picture comes into play.
I took this photo while on my Forum-Nexus study abroad trip, and it has stuck with me ever since. This Frenchman, walking over the Seine, passing in front of the Notre Dame without paying any mind to it… this is what struck me most. These people, the locals… they see these sights every single day on their walk to work, to their favorite cafe, to meet friends. We tourists arrive and snap pictures by the hundreds, usually of us with our friends and loved ones all making ridiculous faces or smiling our cheesy smiles simultaneously in front of a camera, in front of Paris’ most beloved buildings. And then we post them on Facebook and Instagram.
But for these people… for the locals… we are the foreigners. We are the ones intruding on their land, walking through their sacred spaces, making a fuss over buildings and landscapes and sights that they see all the time! To me, this is what is truly amazing about Paris: the people who live there, who can show you what Paris truly is like and what it truly means to them, a Parisian.
I’m not saying that this man in the picture has all the answers to what Paris is like. But I know that his version of Paris is very different from that which the rest of us see. And his version is the one I’d like to know.