Sometimes it is good to be reminded why I love Paris. These past two weeks there have been moments when I have forgotten it, as centralized French inefficiency has delayed my paycheck for 3 weeks. I walk past exciting places to eat, see shows that I would love to get tickets to, and basically I have whined a lot more than I should considering I live in the most beautiful city in the world. This past weekend, a Hillsdale student studying in Tours came to spend a weekend in Paris, and so I got to play tour guide and use my final funds as I was promised I would be paid on Monday (which in French means Tuesday, apparently). Nothing will remind you how blessed you are to live in Paris as showing it to someone else. There is an almost tangible magic that seeps from the old buildings and cobblestone streets.
We spent Saturday visiting a lot of my favorite places, especially ones that were free. I never tire of wandering the Musée d’Orsay, of visiting the paintings I like and meandering through new exhibits. After the museum, we enjoyed macaroons at Ladurée. For those of you who have never been to this perfect feminine paradise, imagine the most beautiful tea party in the world, where you dined on flowers that were magically transformed into little cakes underneath a painted ceiling and gilded mirrors. Needless to say, there are very few men in Ladurée. We then wandered through the cramped, dimly lit shelves of Shakespeare and Company, then climbed onto my roof to watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle, wherein we were so inspired, that we jumped on a train to go watch the special exhibit light show up close. The atmosphere was slightly disturbed by incensed youth protesting something or another (do they really think tourists who come to watch the Eiffel Tower light up care about what they are saying?), but this is France, and nothing adds local flavor like a little protest here and there.
Lots of the magical moments in Paris can’t be planned. As we were walking along the Rue de Rivoli Sunday afternoon, we came across a group of modern dancers performing by the Louvre. Now, modern dance must be of the utmost difficulty. At least, that is what I have always assumed since I am sure I have seen many failed modern dances. But this is Paris. These were students of a conservatoire performing to raise money to go on tour in Russia. American high school fundraisers consist of candy bar sales, the French take to the streets. At first we stopped prepared to laugh (or at least I did), but we stayed a good half an hour because it was beautiful, utterly perfect. Every line was graceful and complex, and all of it was improvisational. You can’t plan moments like stumbling across troupe of dancers in the Louvre on a blustery Sunday, but in Paris, you don’t have to. They just happen.
As we were walking across the Pont des Arts to head towards the train station, I noticed for the first time that the bridge’s chain link railing is covered in locks. Each lock has names on it, the people who came to this spot enraptured by the magic of Paris and a belief in their eternal love for each other. Vinca and Mikkel just left this lock there in the past weeks. Who knows if they will even know each other next time the come back to look at it (if they are the typical French stereotype, probably not). But even so, why not fix something solid to mark that in this most magical and romantic of cities, you were there and you loved?