As cliché as the location may be, there is nothing cliché about Paris, France. Traveling there with my family a couple years ago, I was immersed in what makes the french lifestyle so famous. I saw for the first time what made so many American writers and artists travel to the iconic city for inspiration and change. I had always known about the “City of Lights,” but I never understood why Paris stood out so differently to others. Traveling there no doubt changed my life; it changed how I look at the world around me and changed how I travel.
We checked in to the Citadines Prestige Hotel on Saint-Germain-des-Prés after flying into Charles de Gaulle airport in the morning. It was the early morning of the city that first caught my eye. Stepping out of the hotel onto the street I was immediately taken by the view of the Seine, casually flowing under an absolute glisten of the old architecture of the buildings surrounding it in the morning sunlight. That was a sight that I will never forget for as long as I live. Even though we came into the city by taxi, I had only seen blurred images of Paris pass by me as the car rolled on. Stepping out of that hotel was the first glance of beauty that I was able to feel. From then on, I knew this trip would be unique.
Its always been funny to me, how tourist traps can mask a destination’s true potential from a visitor. Every traveler at some point has gone on the standard “tour” of a place, listening to some guy named Bob on a bus or walking around seeing the history and major landmarks. Paris was going to be different for me, and indeed, I evolved as a person and a traveler. My family of four trekked throughout the city, mainly on foot, through the gardens of Jardin du Luxembourg, to crossing the many bridges of the St. Martin Canal. With every new avenue and alleyway that we passed, I saw a special part of the city that very few tour guides would ever think of traveling to.
It was the streets and the nightlife that I think impacted me the most. How amazing it was to be the nightlife, to be the people, and to be the city that Paris was! I would be squeamish in the hotel room, and I would ask if anyone had wanted to journey out into the streets and discover how the world changed as the sun rested for the night. Upon venturing into the nightlife, I could immediately see that I would not be disappointed. A rush of chatter and people would pass by, letting me soon come to the conclusion that the people of Paris had a unique idea of what it means to live. Living in heaven by day and night, the people knew exactly where the center of the world was.
The best spot in the city at night, I still remember to this day, was the intersection of Rue Bonaparte and Boulevard St. Germaine. At night the streets were more than alive, they were captivating. The golden lights of the buildings shown on the rain covered streets, which only made the city more extraordinary than ever. People crowded to have drinks at the cafés and the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés stood ominously on the corner, looking over the life of the square. The image was crystalized in my mind. From every spot, I could see through Paris like a window, peering into the culture of the city of which I fell in love.
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