Every city has two sides. Even Paris. Especially Paris. It’s amazing how quickly your opinion of the city can change. One moment it’s exciting, alluring, inspiring, and the beauty of its Hausmann giants glow, reflected in the midnight water of the Seine. But then this feeling disappears. You begin to notice the grey, dark, depressive hum that doesn’t stop. The city becomes lonely, abrasive, a pair of snapping fingers telling you to wake up and look at reality in the eyes.
When you first arrive you dream about finding your very own special table at the corner cafe and where you will spend hours with a lover or a friend. Then your head gets airy and your step light as you cross one of the bridges, craning your neck to see how many monuments you can spot in one circular glance. When you get on one of the rented bikes, there is a thrill from weaving through the traffic, the night chill blurring your vision and brightening your face.
But then the thrill ends, the rented bike is returned, and you cross a bulging plaza of families of beggars, their moans and droopy eyes following you as you try to ignore them. The Parisians answer you in curt, clipped tones, closing up as soon as they hear your foreign accent. They mistake you for someone who doesn’t appreciate them, making you feel like the outsider you really are. Their stern glares and tart tones reduce you to a lonely intruder who seeks warmth and comfort from those more like you. You find yourself becoming bitter about a city you once loved…
And then there’s a new day; the sun taints the grey, carved stone, and you smile at the beauty of a single, abandoned bicycle. You find yourself falling in love all over again. And the love-hate relationship with the two-sided city begins once more.