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“To know Paris is to know a great deal.” -Henry Miller
The tragic events on Friday evening of November 13th in Paris stunned and saddened much of the world. The outpouring of support was almost immediate from individuals as well as cities and countries throughout the international community. Many have inquired as to why the immediate mourning was only bestowed upon the City of Lights and not extended to Beirut when the horrific events, which killed more than 40 innocent people, occurred only 24 hours earlier. The question is warranted as no matter where innocent life is lost, abruptly taken as one goes about their business without impeding upon another, each life is equally important and rightly deserves proper respect and remembrance.
While many of us may not know even one of the 129 innocent Parisians, Spaniards, Belgians, Chileans, Germans, Italians, Mexican, Americans, Portuguese and Britons who lost their lives on the calamitous night, with Paris being the top tourist destination in the world (33 million visit each year), it is the Parisian’s way of life that intrigues those who return to the city again and again and again. We Francophiles have fallen in love with what the city offers its visitors, but mostly how it models the free spirit, the natural beauty, the appreciation for the arts, attention to detail, simple luxuries enjoyed without paying attention to the clock or worrying about making an extra buck. It is about relationships, appreciation, quality living rather than quantifiable justification, making the everyday memorable and worthwhile.
Case in point, a new video has emerged encouraging and reminding Parisians, tourists and lovers of Paris to continue to enjoy what makes Paris the city we all love. Using the hashtags #tousaubistrot (Let’s all meet at the bar/bistro) #jesuisenterrasse (I am out on the terrace) #parisisaboutlife, the video is a simple, but courageous reminder to refuse to cower.
“There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even – the French air clears up the brain and does good – a world of good.” -Vincent Willem van Gogh
However, while Paris is beloved by millions of people, some do not understand the draw, do not understand the fascination it evokes even from those who’ve never touched foot on the French soil. After all, Paris can sometimes resemble a lover that refuses to reciprocate our affections, offer more than a challenge when it comes to clear communicate as the language can tie our tongues and baffle our ears, but the best rebuttal to said perplexity is to simply bite into a pain au chocolat found only in France (the phrase “to butter someone up” becomes all the more understandable after one delicious bite). For me, before I first visited and now after I’ve visited three times, it is the lifestyle that I have fallen in love with.
What Paris has taught me over the past fifteen years:
1. A healthy debate never hurt anybody. Keep it civil, keep it lively, but always keep being curious about life so you have something to bring to the conversation.
2. An afternoon at the museum helps refresh our minds and put our “worries” in perspective.
3. Stop looking at your phone/watch at the table.
4. Meals need to be enjoyed sitting down without distraction. Let the food and conversation captivate you.
5. The best baguette is worth waking up early for each morning
6. Open the windows and let in the light each day.
7. Walking is a powerful way to transport yourself.
8. Anything worth loving takes time to learn, understand and fully appreciate.
9. Do what you do because you love it, not because it will make you money or make you famous.
10. Have an opinion!
11. If you decide to change your mind, bravo!
12. To understand your past is to know how to navigate in the present toward the future you desire.
13. To stretch yourself, to do what you didn’t know if you could do, is to open up the world of possibilities and a most fulfilling life.
14. Fresh food, not fast food.
15. Have the courage to fall in love with life, dance with your dreams. You’ll no doubt incur a few skinned knees along the way from stumbles, but if you have a sincere love for the life you are creating, standing back up and striving forward is inevitable.
I encourage you to share what Paris has taught you about life and how to live it in a way you cannot imagine living without now as you go about your daily routine.
I realize this post was not immediate, but if you follow TSLL on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, you know that my thoughts have been with Paris from the moment I heard of the horrifying events. It has taken me time to process what I was feeling because I couldn’t make sense of my sadness. After all, I, like most of us, don’t live there and am not even French, merely a lover of the French culture. I didn’t feel it was my place to mourn and didn’t want to overstep. But then, after observing and hearing from those who do live in France, I realized support, so long as it is sincere and heartfelt, is always welcomed. To the families and friends who experienced what no one should ever have to witness or endure, my thoughts and support are with you. To the country that has forever fascinated and inspired me and millions of others in more ways than you will ever know, vive la France.
I would like to end today’s post with a video, capturing Tuesday’s events at Wembley Stadium in which France and England met on the field. Prior to the first kick, the crowd and players sang as one the French National Anthem “La Marseillaise“. Have a look and listen below. May we all sing and stand with France and the world during these uncertain times.
~Image taken by TSLL during my last trip in summer of 2013. A simple, everyday moment captured of two friends walking and talking through Jardin des Tuileries.