In the words of the infamous Jacques Prévert, “Plus tard ce sera trop tard. Notre vile c’est maintenant.” We don’t have to be fluent in the langage to understand those words. What we do need to be, is fluent in the language of life. Of its richness and potential, and trials and aches.
I never thought I could find a place which would be give me that ‘giddy’ feeling, over and over and over again. From the dirty platforms of Gare du Nord, to the traffic lights every 100 metres, to the mopeds weaving through packed streets of angry French drivers, to the corners filled with life and happiness, cigarette smoke billowing into the air, all part of the city’s breeze, to how wine is compulsory with every meal. I leave a little piece of my heart here on every visit. I hope the city takes great care of it.
I have learnt many things since visiting here. Selfishly sometimes these lessons have been more about me as a person, rather than the tales of this rather incredible city. But perhaps we aren’t all acquainted with the basic facts. The city itself homes 2.241 million people, not including the 10.5 million living in its suburbs. This makes it the most populous urban area in the European Union. We know it for the River Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame and the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. I know it for its endless crisscrossing boulevards, its silent little mews housing hundreds of families with endless stories to tell. We love it for its fashion, food and culture. I love it because of the peace I find within it.
I experienced my first-ever rugby match, where the French really did chant “Allez-les bleus” every ten seconds. The songs echoed around the city, the sadness of defeat apparent on every face, the hope of ‘un match a la fois’ tattooed in every life’s rule book.
We rode the train to Houdan, to walk for miles through empty fields, where trees were desperately holding onto autumn, and bonfires crackled through rain drops and wine glasses were endlessly topped up with the French fuel of life. I don’t think I have been happier.
Alfred de Musset really said it rather well, “Je ne sais où va mon chemin mais je marche mieux quand ma main sere la tienne.”
For those of you, like myself, who haven’t quite grasped the French language (shame on us), it translates to “I don’t know where my road is going but I know that I walk better when I hold your hand”. I hope that he knows it is his hand I am referring to. I hope he knows that I never want to let it go.
Encore Paris. I will never tire of you.