The city of love, I was determined to think, was not as romantic as everyone thought.
And it’s true: Paris is a living breathing city, that often smells like urine and has a large pollution problem. The ratio of homeless people to couples kissing on benches is tilted slightly off center. The people, the bars, and the atmosphere is more modern than I used to imagine it. But maybe my disparaging way of looking at the city as real versus picturesque was merely a symptom of a dreary winter, because now that the sun has returned to Paris I find myself sprawled on picnic blankets in a park, taking walks through the daintier part of Montmartre, smelling flowers and drinking wine.
No, Paris does not always look like a postcard picture. It can be weird and creepy in parts, and it can also make you feel incredibly alone sometimes. But on days where the sun shines through my window and there’s a group of friends to sit, eat, and play Uno with, Paris can look like a fairy-tale city, where everything I lay my eyes on is beautiful.
Perhaps that is what “la vie en rose” truly means.
I realized yesterday that I had never explored Montmartre to its full potential. When you go just to see the Sacre Coeur, although it is quite beautiful, it is always teeming with tourists and with people trying to sell things to tourists. However, après picnicking at Parc Monceau, my friends and I took a walk past the Sacre Coeur and into the quaint neighborhoods of Montmartre.
Past Musée de Montmartre and Renoir’s garden, you are transported out of the tourist world and into a world with narrow, quiet streets, where residents say hello to each other as they walk their dogs, and ivy climbs up the side of stone buildings. It’s a delicate area that makes you feel like whispering, but even though it has that old-timey feel, street art is spattered here and there, as a reminder that you are still in Paris.
The winding streets and alleyways of Montmartre are perfect for getting lost. When you don’t have any obligations, life slows down as you stroll along the cobblestone, stopping to take pictures or pet the occasional street cat.
Lovely weather, good food, and picturesque scenery leads me to the conclusion that Paris isn’t always what you think it is, but sometimes it is.