Oct 9, 2019

The Paris Diaries #5: Fast Luxury. National Treasures.

The Paris effect.  That's the only reason I have for how it's taken me this long to slip in a scene from my morning run photo.

Airplane pyjama tops as activewear.  A trend that's yet to break in Paris.  Ditto the activewear everywhere thing.  I do like a challenge though...  I still have a few days to encourage Parisians to see the light.

And it's not even an interesting one at that.  But routine and predictability is everything, people.  Routine and predictability.


I just realised today that the city carparks are named for the streets that they're located on.  Very handy references as you navigate the city using the map on your phone.  I'm loving the fact that the voiceover lady on my maps app has an Australian accent.  I'm pretty much loving everything about Paris at the moment, truth be told.


You know how I love a good takeaway salad bowl when I'm on these glamorous travels of mine?  How despite all the gastronomic delights that the local food scene has to offer, I'll always seek out tried and trusted meal options (and eat them in my hotel room or pop them in my special room fridge for later)?  I hit the jackpot at Noon which is a takeaway salad bowl chain that has outlets across Paris.  The outlet closest to me is the Berri - Champs Elysee store which is on  Rue de Berri, a road crammed with tempting eateries that span the continents in terms of the cuisine on offer.


Much like my fierce loyalty to the Sweet Green near Copley Place in Boston, I intend to return daily to Noon on Rue de Berri until it's time for me to fly home.


I think the time has come to tell the story behind this cup of espresso....


Hint.



Superior refreshments appear to just part of the experience when you shop in Paris. Basically, shopping is an experience here full stop.  There are often as many staff employed to manage queues and customers as there are staff to do the actual selling.  It's relentless work and I don't know how everyone remains as polite and attentive as they do in the circumstances.



Whole floors of stores suddenly become roped off to the general, touristy public during regular hours due to the presence of select customers.  Clutches of general, touristy people either lean in and make small talk with each other or eye each other warily as competitors for that last piece of a particular bag or small leather good.  Ever vigilant staff members update your waiting time whenever they walk past you.  Complimentary beverages, be they espresso or champagne, go a long way towards keeping the peace and helping everyone to stay chilled.

Champagne and super-efficient crowd control.  That's how they do it at Louis Vuitton Maison Champs Elysee.

You can't help but feel that we've entered an era of Fast Luxury.  Most customers, sensitive to the sheer volume other like-minded people who've done the maths and figured out just how much (about 25%) they'll save by shopping in Paris rather than back home come to stores armed with a list or at least a number of photos on their phone to make communication as efficient as possible.  There's no time for much more than a few polite pleasantries as people hover in the background getting tetchy about where they are in the queue.  Deciding on your purchase boils down to whether or not the things on your list are in stock as per your sales associate's iPad.

I came, I saw, I bought, I sipped.

I never thought I'd love Paris as much as so many others do.  I don't remember the city leaving much of an impression on me that last (and first) time I visited but this time has been different.  Perhaps it's because of my being a solo traveller this time.

That moment when you look up casually from your phone while lugging some shopping bags and lock eyes with the Place Vendome and its column.

Paris is as much for the solo traveller as it is for the loved up couples.  It's a city that gives back as much love as it receives.  Maybe even more.

My lunchtime salad and a pigeon who took a peck at the baguette I dropped on the ground.  If you can't love the one you're with, you can at least give them some bread....
Paris engages your mind as much as it does your heart. It gets you asking questions about what you see.  It gets you imagining the past, present or future that its art and architecture present you with.


Paris has an ageless, timeless and sometimes even flawed beauty.


Paris backs up that beauty with personality and charisma.


Paris makes you gasp.


Paris makes you swoon.



Paris draws you in.



But it also makes you look beyond to see the bigger picture.


Sometimes there are no words to describe Paris, so you pinch yourself instead.  Just to check that you really are in Paris and not just dreaming it.


Paris is a feeling.


It's the way you've imagined it to be.



Paris is also about expecting the unexpected.



Its surface is something you barely scratch as a visitor.


It's to be experienced with all your senses.


It contrasts.

It's symmetry and precision but it's also about circular arrondissements which appear to defy logic.


It pulls back to give you space to wander and learn.   About yourself.  About Paris.  About you and Paris.




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