I thoroughly believe that the magic often identified with Paris comes from the streets. Parisian streets merely happen, for lack of a better word. There is no rhyme or reason to the myriad of narrow streets that intertwine with the more organized spoke like design of Paris. The streets wander along, taking illogical turns, stopping, doubling back. They are, if you will, less submissive than many of our grid-like street systems, more spontaneous and reckless. They have lovely names, often repeated in different parts of the city as each arrondissement names its streets regardless of all the others. One could easily get lost in the streets of Paris, but what a delightful state of bewilderment it would be!
But what I really love about the rues and boulevards that fill this city is their vivacity. The streets are the destination for many, not a means to one. Life happens in the street, with people wandering, socializing, eating, and living at a pace much slower than the one I am used to. Watching the French live life in their streets never gets tiring. I arrived in Paris Tuesday morning, and I passed several hours yesterday and then again today just wandering neighborhoods, threading in and out of boulangeries and cafes. I revisited the Luxembourg gardens, sat for a while on my favorite bench, and treated myself to a pastry.
My apartment is a studio style room on the eighth floor, owned by the Pernot family and free to me in exchange for some childcare for their three girls. I have the best view imaginable in Paris, with the Eiffel tower, Invalides, Sacre Coeur, and Palais de Luxembourg all visible behind endless clusters of slate roofs topped by funny orange chimneys. Last night I sat in bed and watched the Eiffel Tower twinkle on the hour. My apartment’s size allows me to have this exact same view from the shower, sink, closet door, table, and chair, as they are all cozily within arms length of each other. I pay dearly for that view every day when I have to climb all eight flights of stairs in the absence of an elevator. I plan on eating lots of pastries to compensate.