Fun, exciting, romantic and beautiful. These are all the clichés common to the Parisian lifestyle. At least this is what I was taught to expect. Looking in from the outside, the window pane seems glossy, but you see enough to get you interested. With my expectation peaked, I enter this mystical realm with eyes wider than a 5 year old on Christmas morning. I am met with no greater admiration when I tell my friends and family that I am going to live in Paris. All the anticipation got me hyped for the romanticism that was about to smack me in the face.
Little did I know the reality check that was about to happen. I soon found out living in the city is a completely different story. Yes, Paris does conform to all the descriptors above, but it goes a step further — sleek and full of hidden crevices that are only discovered by those who desire to dig deeper into the caverns. It is a city of excitement, where many people struggle to escape its temptutous grasp. That is what Paris brings; no respite for the enthusiastic. Much like the soul of newly infatuated lovers, you barely notice what is hidden beneath the exterior. The famous Tour Eiffel, the Musée de Louvre and the colossal art mask the intimacy that the city provides. For those who make the temporary trip, that is all they need to see to feel connected with the city. I, on the other hand, wanted to find its soul.
Honestly, Paris by day can be overwhelming. It is filled with overly excited tourists, sardine packed metro lines and locals who seem to come straight off the set of Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family. Clad in their darkest material, with upside down smiles, the Parisians during the day have no kindness to show their fellow man as they push, fight and curse their way through their daily routine. They often seem to hate mornings as much as the plague itself. For all its beauty, navigating the dog-poop riddled sidewalk makes for a more souring impression. Until you become a Parisian, you will never understand their uncanny art of poop evasion.
But by night, consider the cloak of rudeness lifted. The streets come alive with the most jovial of characters. Forgetting their recent role as the wet blanket they become the life and joy of the party. As sophisticated as stereotype portrays them to be, they by no means dampen the mood with their life prologue introductions. Caught up in the most spirited of conversations, always over an apéro, and including politics, this is where the romance begins. In a city brought to life as the sun dwindles away, you begin to see the soul’s other half. With every arrondissement showing you a different part of itself, Paris never leaves you wanting more. The people, the bars, the culture. Suffocating and enlightening at the same time. There is always somewhere to go, something to see and an experience to be had.
Even though the stresses of Paris by day consume even the most resistant, the pulse is felt in the time of the night light, where all the joyous spirits come out to play.