I first came to this city as a teen, delirious and in love with the fact that it was as beautiful in life as it was in the images I had seen in photos and films. It charmed me, even as I had a sense of unreality in walking the streets of a city in which every square foot was marked with a depth of history–of other feet walking those same steps–that I could hardly begin to comprehend.
My subsequent visits were enjoyable, albeit not as delirious–but the city still enchanted and engaged me, both for its contemporary culture and ambience, as well as because it marked the site of such an immense accumulation of history.
It’s been a few years since my last visit–long enough that it’s hard to know to what extent the city itself has changed, and to what extent my latest impressions are formed by the ways in which I have changed. I am still enjoying the feel of thickly-painted history, infusing every inch of this place. But I’m also struck by the feeling that I’m visiting a theme park version of Paris rather than the actual city itself. Were there really this many tourists here on previous visits? Now admittedly, we’ve been visiting the sites and the sights of the city–places which I expect most inhabitants would avoid the way that I avoid Yonge and Dundas on Saturday afternoons. But even so, it feels as though there’s barely space for Parisians, and instead, the streets are thronged by fellow tourists. Continue reading