It’s well known we all have two love stories in our hearts, our countries and Paris. With particulate matter 0.25 in particular and ozone quite often. With a river you cannot swim in. With so many strikes in transportation that you better come with two or three pairs of walking shoes. Even free bicycles are on strike. And do not tell me you got a ticket for any cup of coffee you bought here and there. In fact most of them are tax-evading to the sole profit of the bar-owner.

Luckily most Parisians never live their entire life in Paris.

What is really original, unique? Certainly not the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur and Notre Dame. In Montmartre look for Saint Pierre de Montmartre. In the islands just read books about them and this time Notre Dame de Paris is at the top, but as a novel by Victor Hugo. I prefer any small romanesque church in Massif Central to this pompous and overrated cathedral. Forget about the Louvre Museum and go to Chirac’s Museum (Quai Branly), to Beaubourg or to Orsay. If you want music, go to Cité de la Musique and avoid the bigger things that are so big any child would lose their minds in them, including Philharmonie.

Forget about Luxembourg Garden and go to Villette park on sunday morning and enjoy the music and activities there. That’s really Paris. Multicultural, musical and both exotic and close.

At least you did not quote Père Lachaise, or I have misread. Montparnasse is maybe funnier and less touristically kosher.

Find Emile Zola’s house and read one or two of his novels around it about Les Halles and Le Ventre de Paris that speak of what Paris used to be and is no longer. That’s Paris, and it does not exist any more.

The Paris of today is unluckily a bunch of touristic clichés just for tourists, not for those who work there and look away from the big things that are nothing but things and look for smaller more human experiences, adventures, pleasures.

Most living successful playwrights are played hundreds of times in the smaller off the way theaters and not in Comédie Française, Odéon or La Colline.

If you really want to have a real Parisian walk, just walk Boulevard Voltaire from Nation to République, slowly and enjoying every moment and every person you come across. You might even see Bataclan if you are observant.

Take care and think of the fabulous underground sewers and catacombs, though slightly too trendy now for my taste.

Written by

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP

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