Posted by: gabriellereneeleblanc | May 31, 2012

C’est Paris!

Paris doesn’t care if you don’t like her. She may, in fact, prefer it if you don’t. As the world’s most visited city, she’ll never lack for suitors. If you disapprove of her or her lifestyle, you’re free to vacate her over-crowded streets and cafés and leave her to enjoy her Gosset Rosé in peace.

This irreverence is not restricted to tourism but extends to all manner of architecture, art, fashion, and food. Though she possesses a rich history equal to (and technically pre-dating) London, Paris treats her monuments and iconic structures in a manner that would shock most Brits.

Take Notre Dame, for example. While it remains a beautiful example of the Gothic style, and is truly one of the great sights of the city, a keen eye is invariably drawn to the dirtied masonry and disrepair of the cathedral. In comparison to the pristine conditions of Westminster Abbey or, even more so, St. Paul’s Cathedral, it can come as quite a disappointment.

Perhaps it should be said I was mistaken in visiting London before Paris. After all, the British capitol dedicated decades to their restorations and renovations—an effort made very apparent by their shining status. So, had I not first been so taken in by the gentile charm of London’s grand dame the brash and (let’s face it) rather hipster nature of Paris may not have seemed so abrasive.

The truth is, She’s an original city of forthright selfish desire. Paris likes what she likes when she likes it, and anyone who disagrees can go to the devil.

See that beautiful opera house designed by Garnier? It is just lovely example of the Beaux-Arts style, epitomized wholly by the beauty of the painted ceiling that surrounds it’s famous chandelier—wait! Let’s cover that painting completely with an new, original work by the modern artist Chagall, whose work looks like it was done with crayon. Oui, c’est manifique!

Chagall ceiling in the Garnier Opera. Note the depiction of the Eiffel Tower, a construct Charles Garnier described as a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal”. If there is an Opera Ghost I believe it to be his angered spirit seeking reparations.

Oh! And let’s not have opera here, anymore. This venue has become so tired ever since Gaston Leroux wrote that dreadful little book: forget the Phantom, we’ll have our operas in a monstrosity designed and built in the 1980s.

While we’re in the ‘80s, we really should do something about The Louvre. It’s been lording over us all with its unspoiled grandeur for far too long. No former palace should ever be allowed to remain in state. So, how about a giant glass pyramid out front, dead center? Oui! That shall confuse the tourists and give Mr. Dan Brown something to think about. Trés parfait.

Historians can shake their head and rail against the winds of change but this, mes amis, is Paris.

Much like my begrudging acknowledgement of New York’s changeable nature when it comes to its skyline, I have come to accept this is the nature of gay old Paris. She may be the peer of Lordly Lady London, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to let her age affect her personality. (Of course, the U.S.A. is a reckless tween in comparison with the cities of Western Europe, so one could make the argument that Paris should “know better”. I’m sure Paris would have a delightful slew of colorful insults to sling at you in response.)

I do find it amusing that the universally acknowledged symbol of the city is the Eiffel Tower, considering the public outcry from the Parisian artists and architects against its construction. “The Artists Protest” of three hundred was led by Charles Garnier (of the before-mentioned Opera) and was vehemently against a “giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame…the Louvre”. This passionate response came at the idea of the tower’s intended life-span of twenty years. Who knows what might have befallen the protestors if they had but known this “ghastly dream” would last forever? The 300 artists may have risen up in united violence, much like the same-numbered Spartans of Thermopylae.

From what I have come to expect of Paris, I believe they would have shared the same sorry fate.

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