Everyone comes to Paris for a different reason.
October 8, 2020
Everyone comes to Paris for a different reason. For some it’s love, for others it’s the architecture and culture, and for others still it’s the food. For me? To finally become fluent in French and to feel like I had a European base that I could call home. But the truth is, all the other reasons have made me want to stay. I had never before had the opportunity to live in a Francophone country and to use my French skills to order food, make friends and learn from academic professors. As such, I was surprised to notice my spoken French improving so quickly, but I have also had to remind myself that my confidence with my third language will fluctuate greatly every day. There may be some days where I would rather speak French than any other language and there will be others where the right words keep escaping me and I feel so incredibly foreign to this city. I have also come to learn that these feelings are just that, feelings, and most of the time Francophones are just happy to see you try express yourself in their native language.
I have to admit, I was a skeptic to the power of love in the city of lights. I thought the city’s romantic capacities were often overrated by those already in love. However, this city, its architecture and its people do provide an element of romance that I have never previously experienced in any other city. Paris is a city that is beautiful from every angle in every arrondissement. It’s surprised me that there has been no part of the city that I have disliked so far. I will admit, however, that the Tour de Montparnasse was probably one of the biggest architectural and urban planning mistakes the city has ever experienced. Aside from that, even the quieter corners of the city, leave you in awe at the beauty of the buildings and the picturesque alleyways.
After six months of quarantine and restricting my social life, the last four weeks in Paris have been my most outgoing and spontaneous. I have felt so happy to wake up every day in an incredibly fascinating city that I can explore and learn from, even in the middle of a pandemic. To be able to go to museums – oftentimes for free – and see some of the most renowned works of art in the world, with only a handful of people around me has been such a luxury. I thought I was living in a parallel universe when I walked into the room with La Jaconda in the Louvre and there were only two or three other people looking at the most famous painting in the world at the same time as me. I remember visiting it once before when I was eleven years old and could barely see the painting because of the ocean of tourists and cameras flashing in front of me. But the Louvre is only one of dozens of museums in Paris. I have gone to other museums alone, like the Musée d’Orsay, or with friends, like the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and even taken a class in the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. It is incredible to wake up every morning in a city where there will always be new museums to visit or where a random afternoon stroll can leave you looking up at the Notre Dame or Sacre Cœur.
About the author:
Hi, I’m Helena! I’m a Junior at Yale, hoping to spend the year in Paris if Covid-19 will let me. I am Portuguese, but have lived in India, Brazil and Wales before living in New Haven and Paris. I study Global Affairs at Yale and hope to have a career working to solve our most pressing agricultural and environmental issues. My favorite classes in Paris are Sociology of Defiance and Gender Studies at Université Paris 8.