Serendipitous City Stuff

Happy little car on Rue Vieille du Temple

Every spring near the end of the semester, my college would throw a huge party for several days running. (Moderately) big bands played, fun games were set up on the lawn, and (let’s get real), huge beer kegs were tapped.

I especially loved the “inflatable Olympics” apparatus that took over the fields. You have by now probably placed me in my early 30s (you are correct), but have surmised that I am really just a big kid. Why running through plastic obstacle courses or donning sumo wrestling costumes was my year’s highlight, I’m not sure, but let’s just say people who are easily amused usually have a better time in life.

Besides enjoying the all-out let-loose feeling of the festivities, I found my favorite word: Serendipity. Yes, this was the name of the annual party. It means unlooked for good fortune, or “making desirable discoveries by accident.”

Sure, lots of these events were planned, but put a whole bunch of 18-22 year olds in a beautiful campus setting surrounded by a big forest and give them free-flowing alcohol, some unforeseen things are going to happen. (Actually, I wonder now if the college wasn’t looking for trouble more than luck. Wow.)

P1020037 (I have almost the exact same photo of me somewhere around here…)

Some people can’t stand city life. This September I especially sympathize as this is the most stressful rentree I have ever experienced. The crowds, the frenzy, the traffic, two strikes in two weeks. It is sometimes enough to make one go batty.

But then there is serendipity. Lucky accidents can happen anywhere, of course, but the higher density of people in cities just puts the odds at these lucky accidents just a tad higher, in my opinion.

Without even trying, I run into delightful little treats. (Or, do I just take the time to appreciate them? Hmm, discuss).

Like this, for instance: you might not be surprised when I say that I heard some lovely classical music at Bastille the other day. The Bastille Opera is there, of course. Only, the concert wasn’t located in the opera house, at all. Nope, I stayed underground and listened to this mini-orchestra for awhile. (Notice the older woman dancing near the end – I will be this older woman someday, I’m sure).

Or last night, I went to Shakespeare & Co to hear Nick Flynn and Adam Haslett read, followed by some jazz piano afterward. This was an event as part of the big Festival America that will be taking place at Vincennes this weekend. As I was walking back, I ran into some sort of spectacle at the Hotel de Ville. (I love how much goes on at the Hotel de Ville. True public programming. This week’s events are in support of “Coeur des Vies.” Stations are set up at the Hotel de Ville so you can give blood until September 25).

When there was a pause in the acrobatics, I went home, but I appreciated the small random pause in the day. There is SO MUCH I want to be doing in Paris right now, but I have too much on my plate right now to take advantage of everything. So it’s quite convenient to just run into fun things without trying. This bit of serendipity really brings a smile to my face.

I have to give a shout-out to fellow blogger Adam of Invisible Paris and Paris Weekends who really knows this city and all her off-beat corners. He puts together a stellar list of (often quirky) things going on for the weekend. This week I want to do absolutely everything he writes about.

I probably won’t get to any of it, but maybe I can hope for a little serendipity on my side and run into something else completely unexpected.

What have been some of your favorite serendipitous moments?

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14 Responses to “Serendipitous City Stuff”


  1. 1 Sweet Freak September 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    First off, I agree: this rentrée seems especially loud and fast and overwhelming.

    And I agree that there are a gazillion amazing events and exhibitions to experience maintenant!

    But I’ve never thought of taking the serendipitous approach to enjoying the city… I think you nailed it, Sion. That’s the strategy for autumn in Paris!

    • 2 paris (im)perfect September 24, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      Serendipity as strategy! I love it!

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this September is particularly crazy. (I’ve seen quite a few people use the word “meltdown” recently). However, these bits of serendipity do help! So if you can’t make it to all the amazing things going on, don’t worry! You might just run into something else you never could have planned!

  2. 3 Adam September 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for the mention!

    I’ll let you into a little secret – I don’t do much of it either! Like you though, I love the idea that these things are there, and when I prepare my lists I promise myself that I will do them.

    I definitely/almost certainly/probably will be at the Lundis de Lutèce event though as I love everything about that initiative – the history of Paris, good company, discussions….beer!

    • 4 paris (im)perfect September 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      Hey Adam! Yes, I think I might have figured out your secret. How can one possible go to everything going on in Paris? You are exactly right, however. Just *knowing* it’s out there is wonderful.

      Maybe I will see you at one of these events. I love your progression, often like mine….definitely/almost certainly/probably….

      Have a good weekend! :)

  3. 5 Alison September 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    What a wonderful attitude! I think some of the best things in life are those that happen by accident. Thanks for reminding us all of this :)

  4. 7 Res September 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Probably not as quirky, cool or serendipitous as the things here, but can I humbly hope that you will come to my party next weekend? You never know, I have some pretty odd friends who speak at least 25 different languages between them, so SOMETHING weird COULD happen!

    • 8 paris (im)perfect September 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      Hey Res. Your party is definitely on my calendar for October 2. What’s also on my calendar is a huge deadline on October 4. Both of those are staring at me. If I feel like I can leave the house (the main reason I’m saying I won’t make it to all those cool things this weekend!), I will definitely come. But, you know, just have to see how it looks on Saturday! Also, with 25 different languages in 1 room, something could *definitely* happen! At least a funny faux pas, I imagine.

  5. 10 Geary September 24, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the videos. That is what I like best about Paris, just wandering around and watching life take place. Little things are sometimes the most touching such as the joy of a small child dancing to a street accordionist against the evening sky on a bridge to Ile St Louis.

    I avoided a trip this fall because of current problems with public transport strikes. At my age, being stuck in the airport or in a Eurostar station is no longer any fun. Hope they get all that worked out soon.

    Geary

    • 11 paris (im)perfect September 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Geary. Glad you liked the videos! I took them so I could bring people just a little slice of life of Paris! The little things are definitely what makes it all worth it.

      Good call on the public transport. It has seemed to be worse than usual of late. There’s always *some* way to get around, I guess, but yes, maybe outside of “strike season” would be better!

  6. 12 Lindsey September 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve seen those classical artists in Bastille!! They’re wonderful, it’s such a nice break from what usually goes on (and is lurking) underground!

    • 13 paris (im)perfect September 25, 2010 at 6:58 pm

      They are great, aren’t they! I almost bought a CD, but I thought the 20 euro price tag was a bit steep. Gave them some change, though! Thrilled to have something that awesome to welcome me when I get off the metro.

  7. 14 Paris in Pink September 26, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Wish I’d been at the Shakespeare & Co event. Everything they put on is always lovely :) Paris in Pink


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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