But First You Must Fall in Love….

So, as its Valentines Day in Paris, I thought stick with the theme of the day and write about the love affairs in the city of romance…or rather, love affairs with the city of romance.

A few nights ago I was sitting in a cafe next to Notre Dame (as cliche as it was), talking to a fellow CSU student, Naomi, who has been on exchange since last June, admittedly seeking some comfort in the familiar twang of her/our accent.

Having been here just on 6 weeks i am still adjusting, and I have at times struggled with the culture shock of living in Paris, although rare it would hit in the oddest ways, missing the fresh, clean smell of home or simply the convenience of walking into a shop and asking about a dress or wine without the inevitable language barriors. Some days I love Paris and other days in the selfishness of homesickness, I loath it.

In the kind of chat only girls have, I vented to her about it, Naomi had been through this phase, but was now at the point where she never wanted to leave. The way she explained it was through paraphrasing a saying here, that ‘you must fall in love with Paris’.

Exclusive Valentines day Macaroon from Luduree- rasperry and lychee.. mmmm

Exclusive Valentines day Macaroon from Luduree- rasperry and lychee.. mmmm

Valentines Day Girl date at the Luduree cafe on the Champs Elysee

Valentines Day Girl date at the Luduree cafe on the Champs Elysee

This I found quite provoking, the first weeks I was here I was so over the moon to be here, and now I look back I can liken that euphoria to that of when you first have a crush, or start dating someone; that giddy, laughing, smile-all-the-time, rose-tinted-glasses effect. After this phase come the dreaded morning-after effect where you realise what you got yourself into, where all the little flaws and discrepancies become apparent and the shine fades away.

Paris, and the effect it has on people is much like that.

So many couples visit Paris, seeing it as the Mecca for romance and folly, which it is in so many ways, you only have to visit a famous monument and you will see all levels of soppiness and hand holding. Because for the time those couples are here, everything is perfect, even a rainy day cant spoil it.  However it does not last, and like a one night stand or fling its glimmer dies quickly, and you are faced with reality. That is unless, it is True Love.

The way I see it, a visit to Paris, is a lustful fling of a relationship. it fulfils a dream or fantasy, and you can ignore all the faults because it isn’t going to last, so you are free to live in that moment. However to live in Paris, you must fall in love with it unconditionally, regardless of its flaws.  When you move away from the polished, sandstone tourist districts, museums and designer stores, Paris is like any other city, it has its problems. Some areas have a feel much more similar to areas of Sydney than what you would expect of Paris. Away from the balconied buildings and ornate alcoves, Its dirty and gritty, there is a huge amount of homelessness, crime, and at times it can feel like you are constantly looking over your shoulder or holding your purse.

I must admit I have seen some of the more sinister side to Paris, I was pickpocketed only a few weeks ago, thankfully it was only camera that was taken. But dispute this, there is a slow growing warmth for the city growing in me, which is what love often is, it isn’t always like the movies where it occurs on site, for the rest of us mortals its a slow, organic process where you realise one day ‘ you know what? I actually, propperly love (insert name)’.

Paris has a spirit, a culture and a personality that it does not apologise for, you simply must take it as it is, love or hate it.

I think it is something you simply have to stick to, where you get over the forlorn speed-bump of things not being perfect and glittery,where like any great love, and you accept it for what it is, flaws and all….

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