Pretty Paris

I never forget the beauty of Paris. It’s not something that one ever takes for granted. Even through the eternal ups and downs (and boy, there have been many!), the magical quality of the city endures. In fact, it’s a major reason for putting up with the many trials of living here.

But really? Loneliness, confusion, French bureaucracy, homesickness – all of these are made easier simply because Paris is pretty?

Well. Yeah.

It sometimes blows my mind that “yes” continues to be my answer. But being surrounded by beauty somehow seeps into the soul.

That being said, all that beauty can sometimes make you feel isolated, too. When you’re feeling down, the contrast between the beauty outside and the non-pretty stuff you feel inside can feel stark.

But I contend beauty is a balm for woe. We each experience it differently, use that meaning in different ways.

Paris’ beauty isn’t exactly a secret and millions have tried to capture her je ne sais quoi. I feel like I’ve seen the same shot of the Eiffel Tower enough to last me a lifetime. The attempts to hold the beauty in a still frame can’t always mirror that very real sensation of standing in a living, moving piece of art.

But sometimes, there is success. Just as we each experience our own version of beauty, everyone has their unique way of capturing it.

Here’s a short video that reminds me of my answer. Our life is art.

Yes. A simple yes.

Le Flâneur from Luke Shepard on Vimeo.

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16 Responses to “Pretty Paris”


  1. 1 forest January 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    nice vid. And, yes, the beauty of Paris does make up for a lot of the drawbacks of living in the land of bureaucracy!

  2. 3 Ann January 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Wow, what a beautiful video!

  3. 4 Milla January 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Beautiful video and a great post. The beauty of Paris does somehow manage to make the downsides – loneliness, homesickness, bureaucracy – bearable, on good days!

    I will never get over the Eiffel Tower – every time I pass it, I either stare in awe or giggle like a school girl. No matter what happens or when I leave, I will always remember how lucky I am to have been able to call Paris home.

    • 5 paris (im)perfect January 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Yes! But don’t get me wrong. On the bad days, it’s still *really*, really hard :)

      I’m the same way. I never get over the fact that I’m in Paris. You’re right – no matter what happens, we are lucky to have been able to call Paris home!

  4. 6 Barbara Hall January 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    “Beauty is a balm for woe” — those are wonderful and very true words. I too live in a pretty little country town in California and its rural beauty has the same effect on me as what you describe about Paris.

    I love the verb flâner — it’s my favorite thing to do when I’m in Paris.

    Thanks for posting the video.

  5. 8 Cynthia January 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    The video is really beautiful! However, oftentimes I’d rather be here as a tourist than actually living here, I think I enjoyed more the beauty of the city when I was on vacation :(

    • 9 paris (im)perfect January 26, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      I understand, Cynthia. I know a lot of people who visit Paris every year. It is their dream to live here. But they might not always understand that visiting is very different from living here.

      I am still as struck by the beauty of the city, but how it makes me feel does change. I could very well have changed the emphasis of this post if I wrote it on a different day! For example, I mentioned that sometimes the beauty makes me feel isolated. When I’m going through a rough time, sometimes it makes me feel even more alone. I definitely prefer when the scales are tipped the other way, though – when the beauty uplifts!

      Whatever my mood, though, I do count myself lucky to call this city home.

      Thanks for your comment.

  6. 10 Franck January 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    And the better is to come!

    I am a Parisian so I just can imagine a parallel with the city of my heart, Budapest.
    About Paris, watching monuments, smelling bakeries scents and biting into a hot baguette or pastries is just phase one!

    Believe me!

    When you are incurably affected with the “titi*-chromosome” you will be moved by the shape of an old staircase, the odd grain of a façade(what these wild animals are doing on this building rue Pasquier?!), the particular appearence of a roof or the discovery of a new lane. (I’m almost sure it was not here yesterday!)
    These were the phase two symptoms.

    The phase three is when you are absolutly convinced there is a conspiracy against you to not let you find out all the beautiful stories linked to these places you love. Some tales are hidden from you, you have to investigate, no doubt about it.

    At this point, you become a Parisian, with the same reactions you thought weird when you arrived here. A buildind you like is resurfacing: normal reaction “good”, yours (Parisian from now on) “What! Nobody has requested my authorization!!!)

    At this stage of illness, a friend of yours, a foreigner (a poor soul from your old country) who will be a little too enthusiastic about the Eiffel Tower for example will be cooled.
    _ Zeu ouat?! Ah! Yes. Zee eifail tauVair… pfff (hmmm)… tu parles! A tourists trap! A derrick which has never given a drop of oil!!!

    That’s it, you’re French, worse, you’re a Parisian.

    About our dear Bureaucracy, I have a cure. When you talk to a wall, this sort of dumb and deaf officer who never helps anybody but himslef and relatives, tell him “vous êtes décidément un bon Français”. And if there is no perforated communication panel just slap him or her hard in the face. It won’t put your file onto the pile but your blood pressure will drop and guarantees you a longer life.

    Parisians are not different, just incorrigible.

    *titi (urchin, scamp) = fleur de pavé = people more Parisian than Paris itself

    • 11 paris (im)perfect January 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Franck,

      I think I’m in phase two :)

      Also, I don’t think I will ever try that line on a bureaucrat. A Parisian could say that; I’m not so sure a foreigner telling him he’s really French would go over so well. :)

      Finally, I *love* Budapest as well! When I went to visit I was already indulging fantasies of moving there.

      But if I thought learning French was hard, imagine Hungarian!

      Thanks for your “Parisian” perspective.

  7. 12 Franck January 26, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    In Hungary, learning Hungarian is not that hard… compared to eating Hungarian. Did you tast it?

  8. 13 Kasia Dietz January 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Beautiful sentiments and Video! If only we could always feel as ‘pretty’ as Paris.

    And yes, even on the ‘ugly’ days somehow it’s well worth it.

  9. 14 Susan February 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Great video, thanks for sharing! I look forward to the beauty of Paris soothing me while we settle in to Paris this spring. Art is one of the great pleasures of living for me because I’m a visual person. Be it a painting, a building, or a piece of furniture, anything that makes me happy just looking at it.

    I live in LA (2 months to go!), and the only time I really have that happy feeling here is at the beach. There are many beautiful sites in LA but because it’s a car culture you have no time to appreciate a great building that you happen to drive by (unless you’re stuck in traffic next to a beautiful building).


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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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