Paris Wanderlust

Cité de la mode et du design (13e)

Paris beckons, and I dream of returning to the city whose streets I never tire of wandering. Paris is a city steeped in self-awareness — of its past and of possibilities for its future. It mourns its losses, struggles with turmoil, envisions change, and celebrates survivals, like the ship of the city’s emblem that’s buffeted by waves but never sinks.

And it endlessly analyzes and debates all of the above.

Like geological shifts, Paris folds over itself and crumbles, exposing its layers of history, myth, and urban self-reflection. Paris continually re-imagines itself — from major urban upheavals like the Haussmannian decades of the 19th century . . .

Boulevard Malesherbes (8e)

. . . to the more recent explosion of street art that has transformed parts of the city into vast outdoors art galleries.

(Rue Étienne Marcel, 1er)

Sometimes Paris overwhelms with a blaring sennet, like its grand boulevards and hôtels particuliers.

Hôtel Salm, 64 Rue de Lille (7e)

Other times, it seduces with a whisper or ironic smile, like its quirky little fountains.

Square Paul-Grimault, 28 Rue de la Fontaine-à-Mulard (13e)

Paris beckons, and for several years I’ve responded, wandering its streets for hours, meditating on a city that ebbs and flows between preservation and impermanence. I ventured into Parc Georges-Brassens, which has safeguarded its past as a horse slaughterhouse by keeping its market stalls and clock tower.

(15e)

I strolled through Parc Monceau, which maintains the kitschy fake ruins installed by its former aristocratic owner.

(8e)

I meditated on Paris’ ancient layers in the reconstructed Gallo-Roman amphitheatre, part of which was lopped off by Haussmann’s creation of Rue Monge.

Les Arènes de Lutèce (5e)

I explored neighbourhoods that have become a laboratory for urban renewal and modern architecture, such as the ZAC district around Diderot University.

(13e)

I peered into elegant offbeat storefronts . . .

218 Boulevard Saint-Germain (5e)

. . . and encountered unexpectedly sublime park benches.

Jardin Joan-Miró (13e)

And I visited memorials to a dark chapter in the history of Paris.

Le Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, Île de la Cité (4e)

I dream, sometimes literally, of returning to Paris. COVID-19 happened, so the trip I’d planned for fall 2020 got postponed. The images and musings that I’ll post over the next few weeks are my love letter to Paris, and my pandemic therapy.

I hope you enjoy them.

First up: Paris street art

Camille Martin

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