After 2 weeks of enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Palace of Versailles and the gardens, it’s time to move on back into the Parisian city sites. So we start off this week with a non-tourist area which really captures the heart and feel of what enjoying life as a Parisian can be. Now in this particular area, my cousin had taken myself and my other cousin for a drive all the way to the other side of the city from where they lived, and I have this delightfully fun memory of how language sometimes doesn’t translate across. So I’ve grown up in the UK for most of my life (but hold Dutch nationality), and the cousins I was with are French. Now my French isn’t so great having only studied it to intermediate level several years back, so quite often I converse with my cousins in English, and I do not hold back on using slang! They can handle it no worries. Now on this particular day we actually needed to find somewhere to park, and seeing some local kids I turned to my cousin and said, why not ask the yut squad (youth squad). Now he had to ask me what I meant and I explained it to him, as this colloquial phrase does not translate. And so, being the funny guy he is, he translated it literally back into french and went as asked these kids for places to park. Now the reason I say this is funny is because saying young people in french actually has a derogatory meaning, and it was quite entertaining between stared at by a bunch of 14 year olds as if we committed a daylight crime. So note to self, be careful of literal translations otherwise maybe next time they’d chase us down the street!
Now when it comes to travelling in Paris, well any city for that matter, the best way to enjoy it is sometimes to go to the outskirts, away from the hustle and bustle of tourist life. This way you get to immerse yourself in the beauty lurking in the shadows, such as this lovely cobblestone area of Paris. For me, this equally captures the charm of the city, because it’s liveliness is still there, but without the crowd of people getting in the way of appreciating the beauty at the same time. And this sentiment is true for any city. Take London for example. I’ve grown up in greater London, where I’m surrounded and near to many different royal parks and gardens, and the river Thames passing through quaint town areas. It’s a much more relaxed feel to London as a city, and although we have many tourists, it’s so open that you barely notice it, and can enjoy the atmosphere of the area, which is more like a den of locals than a den of tourists. So basically get out there and explore, and find the places where you can pretend to be a local.
So back to the street with the car parking story. What I didn’t mention in the previous post of similar design was how beautiful a sunset in Paris can be! Really this post is more like a highlight for many more sunset posts to come. I’ve always loved a good sunset, and the really interesting thing to note is how they change depending on where you are in the world. Some of my favourite sunsets have actually been when I was in Japan! Though my favourite might have been the time at the seaside in Bulgaria where I also saw a blood moon (which is so cool and awe inspiring to see). So really, just sometimes take a pause and look up at the sky and admire the passing beauty of a sunset.
Whenever you get a chance, get real high! No, not that kind of high, I mean the get up on the roof or top floor kind of high! One of my favourite ways to view any new place is from above above, looking over the world before me. It really gives you a different perspective to what you see and how you view things. Now this particular picture looks nothing like the ‘typical’ Paris view you get on a postcard, and yet this is still Paris. It’s funny to think how looking up destinations to visit, you sometimes only hone into that stereotypical view, and can miss out on charming areas that form the whole.
So by now you must be wondering what I was doing in the outskirts of Paris. So my cousins took me to this wonderful hotel which is also host to a rooftop bar and garden, and it is here that this pic was taken. It’s really nice having a family who can take you to places you wouldn’t even think of! But, this is what makes travelling so much fun, because you can get out of the stereotypical tourist zones and enjoy the place as if you were a local. For me, this is a Paris lifestyle I can definitely enjoy! Enjoying wine, enjoying the gentle breeze as the day ends, and enjoying the company of family and friends. Oh I also had the opportunity to work on my French here!
So speaking of practicing my french, I have an interesting little story to share with an odd twist. So one of the times I was in Paris, I was actually delivering talks on why study languages at university (as I had studied Japanese for 4 years), and at the same time as delivering these talks I also had the opportunity to help out as an English language assistant for half the day with a group of kids aged 12-14. And in one class it was so much fun seeing their faces light up when asking me questions about myself and the UK and using the correct grammar. In another class, the kids had just been on a school trip to Rome and were making a presentation about their trip, and so I went to help out some groups edit the grammar and spelling, and it was fun trying to guide them to the right answers without giving them directly. Anyway so none of this is the french practice twist I was getting too. So after one class, it was lunch break and one of the kids offered to show me the way to a local cafe to get some food as it was on here way home (kids in France can either eat in school or more often than not, go home during lunch break to eat). Anyway what was interesting about this journey was the way we were conversing, and this is the language practice twist! Now my french speaking is not so great, but I can listen and mostly understand, and for this kid, her English speaking was not great, but she could listen and also mostly understand. So, the way we ended up speaking was me speaking in English and her in french, and somehow this conversation worked out completely as if it were the most natural thing in the world. So there you have it, you don’t always need to speak the language to speak to people. Just a little bit of understanding can go a long way. Oh and for lunch I had an amazing Salmon wrap!
A completely different view from a rooftop bar, and wow what a sight! The best time to see somewhere from up high will always be around the golden hour (when the sunlight turns everything orange) and when sunset is coming into play. So here I am stood on the Arc de Triomphe and wow what a view you get. Actually fun fact, I’ve been to Paris many times (on the account of having family there to visit), but I had actually never realised that you could go up the arch for many years. Maybe sometimes you can rely too much on local knowledge when it comes to being a tourist, therefore it is always a good idea to do a bit of research to look things up. I think by now I probably know Paris better than my family aha. But yeah this place is great to go up and you get a full view of the city, and it’s so beautifully arranged and organized.
You don’t always need to be up high to get a beautiful view. Sometimes a shot from the street can show off a place from a better perspective. One of the things I love about being a photographer is that you can get really creative in how you view the world through a lens. It’s always worthwhile too exploring, adapting and changing your so called style, and pushing yourself to different boundaries. I hope my collection of travel photos show off a desire to push myself. The other thing is also to be patient to wait for the right time to get the colours you wish.
Another golden hour shot capturing the beauty of Paris. People often refer to this place as the city of romance and usually mean that for couples. However, for me it is the architecture and how things stand out no matter where you are. From this picture you can see many places of interest, perhaps many you don’t even realise for yourself. For me, I don’t just see the Eiffel Tower, I also see several museums that I know are tucked in nearby (like the African art museum, or the Asian art museum). Even a heritage museum and place is nearby. It’s great being able to use landmark sights to navigate to other great places that you’ve explored. There is so much to see and do in Paris, it’s an amazing place to visit.
Such a centerpiece of Paris and yet it’s surrounded by the traffic of cars. It’s never made sense to me why, and that’s also probably a reason I never thought of it as a place you can go inside and climb up. But well glad I was eventually proved wrong.
One of my favourite shots that really captures how central the arc is to Parisian life. It’s just one of those places you somehow can’t miss and not see. The walk up along is great too, and you can get to many places from here. Anyway back to the arc, it’s amazing to think where its place in history falls as it was ordered to be built by none other than Napoleon himself in 1806. It’s funny to think though that this arc was completed 15 years after his death. He didn’t live long enough through his own triumph and maybe in a weird way, his heightened sense of self-arrogance and confidence led to his downfall. Just a thought to consider. I do love Napoleonic history though. It was one of my favourite subjects to study!
And back to a final sunset picture to close off the sights of the arc and some high up views. Tomorrow’s post will reveal my favourite of the series again so look forward to that. What are your favourite high up places to go to in Paris?
So what did you think of this weeks collection of stories and musings? Any thoughts of your own? Comment down below, and thank you for reading. For daily stories and pictures make sure to follow the Instagram.
Editor: Leonardo Buter
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