Posts Tagged 'Paris'

Plus ça change?

Sarah's Key book cover

I’ve been starring at the cover of the paperback edition of Sarah’s Key, an international bestseller by Tatiana de Rosnay, trying to understand what would make a publisher (St. Martin’s Griffin in this instance) so willfully conflate the relative geography of two of Paris’s most familiar landmarks: the Eiffel Tower and the Luxembourg Gardens?

The publisher’s art director evidently believed that the Luxembourg Palace, which anchors the northern axis of the gardens and is where the French Senate meets, would not be recognizably Parisian enough without the Eiffel Tower visible in the background. Problem is, the photo is looking north, and the Eiffel Tower does not sit behind and to the right (northeast) of the Palace because it’s in the other direction – due west. Continue reading ‘Plus ça change?’

Love Lockdown

Cadenas d'amour, Pont de l'archevêché, Paris by Alain Chermat, Mar. 6, 2011

Want to declare your undying love to the world, but don’t have the royal star power of William and Kate? How about locking up a bit of historic real estate with a $3 dollar investment? That seems to be thinking behind the profusion of padlocks spreading like steel kudzu on bridges in Paris and a dozen other cities.

Over the past several years love locks have proliferated on pedestrian-friendly bridges from Stockholm to Seoul, as couples mark their commitment by shackling a bit of public property. With hordes of tourists looking on, the lovers inscribe a padlock, attach it to a bridge railing, and toss the key into the river. Chances are, the ritual concludes with the couple snapping a photo to share online. The majority of love-lockers are likely tourists, and many may never return to visit their locks. And if they do, odds are it will be with a new partner, and a new lock, in hand. Continue reading ‘Love Lockdown’

We’ll Never Have Paris

I’ve been enjoying a collection of essays entitled, Paris Was Ours: Thirty-Two Writers Reflect on the City of Light.

In her introduction, editor Penelope Rowlands writes, “Although I’ve lived in a handful of other cities, this one left the deepest mark. Its effect on me, as on the other writers in this volume, was outsize: it’s where we came into ourselves.”

Rowlands recounts her arrival in Paris as a wide-eyed young woman “held in thrall” to an early new wave film by Jacques Rivette, Paris nous appartient, “which we translated, loosely, as Paris is Ours. Soon, we knew, it would belong to us, too,” she writes.

I, too, am a member of the tribe that Rowlands dubs the “Paris-returned” and though I called the city home for three-plus years as a young mother, I cannot presume to say that Paris was ever “mine.” Even being born on French soil won’t help you stake a claim, as we discovered after our second child was born in Paris that French citizenship is conferred through le droit de sang (blood), not le droit de terre (soil).

Still, the book set me to musing about why Paris, arguably more than any other of the world’s great cities, so strongly inspires, and rebuffs, our desire to possess?

Paris, View from Our Window

Continue reading ‘We’ll Never Have Paris’


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