You are stuck in the most beautiful city studying hard core, writing papers, preparing presentations, and going to class. I have a week left and I am stuck with stress. But I deserve a week of stress after all my fun times, so I am trying to just suck it up.
Yesterday, I had my last French history class. It has been such a great class. There is nothing like learning about history, and then visiting it in real life. It adds a whole new dimension to the city. A whole new light.
Paris, let's just say, is really good at masking its dark past. And by that, I mean, that each monument that still remains, or was rebuilt, or that is in plain sight for any tourist to see, represents a heroic moment or a heroic person. It is all perfectly placed for a reason. It is all constructed so that the viewer will think a certain away about the city.
Every park has a perfectly balanced structure, with straight roads, but most importantly, fenced off grass. In every park and on every main street, there are perfectly trimmed square trees. The boulevards all meet up at a central point that usually holds a famous monument in it, or some sort of circle of restaurants and a metro.
The perfect example of this is the Arc de Triomphe, which I talked about a few days ago. It is a huge monument that started construction under Napoleon to commemorate his military victories. It wasn't completed until Napolean the third took power, but nonetheless, it is now the center of twelve roads. They all come together to this one center point. I have driven around it, and yes, there are no lanes. How people stay alive....beats me.
I mean this is a spot that is well-known, and the most famous street is the Champs-Elysee. It really is my least favorite street in Paris, but it is the most popular street around. Perfectly square trees line the entire boulevard. Completely symmetrical. Following it straight down, you will hit into Place de la Concorde eventually.
Place de la Concorde means like a square of peace basically. In the center is a obelisk that was given/taken (not quite sure) from Egypt. Ironically, the oldest monument in Paris. But, what do you think that spot was known for originally?
This is the same spot where the guillotine was during the French Revolution of 1789. When you walk there, an honest tourist or random bystander, would have no idea. It is a beautiful square with fountains, and an obelisk in the middle.
Then, straight ahead is the Tuilleries Garden and the Louvre. All in a straight shot from each other. Literally, when you stand outside the Louvre, you see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (different arch) which is the mini-version of the real Arc. Through that, the obelisk in Place de la Concorde, and behind the Arc de Triomphe.
Just stop for a moment. That is really astounding and very purposeful. Think of what kind of influence that has on the viewer. I don't know about you, but it sweeps you up and tends to let you forget the gruesome past in some ways.
In history class, we talked about this idea. Paris is almost caught up in balancing the tourism aspect of the city, and the real life accessibility. The whole layout of the city makes a very powerful statement. Think of it like, the person who always looks perfect, and eventually find out that the person has serious issues.
I think that was the hardest part for me when I first got here. You almost feel as if everything is a set up. Wow, there is the Eiffel Tower, and oh look that's the Notre Dame. Like this isn't real life. No way.
My teacher said it brillantly, "Paris has this way of brainwashing you."
Hmm...that makes so much sense. The longer I have been here, the more I have gotten caught up in this masterpeice. I started to believe in the whole thing. No wonder I have been changing, and feeling like a different person. No wonder artists, writers, and all types of thinkers come here for inspiration.
My teacher finished the class with this, "I am a believer in Paris. And I don't necessarily believe that all brainwashing is bad."
I mean look at this...
All the way....straight down is Place de la Concorde
Yesterday after I went into the Madeline church, I walked out and this was my view. One of my favorite views of all time. And please tell me, doesn't this brainwash you a little bit too?
And if you still aren't convinced, just relish in the fact that I finally got the pictures of my 19th on top of the Eiffel Tower.
Convinced ya, didn't I!
The cute Russian family that wished me to "Be Happy"