It was always an alluring mystery as to where we were being lead to beneath the dim streets of Paris. Each student groggily attempting to stay moving in a line without the faintest clue of where our cabalistic metro ride had placed our fresh souls. Bodies weaved in and out of our way, coming and leaving harmoniously to the screech of the metro as it halted then sped away rapidly against the tracks. It was impossible to tell what beautiful part of France thrived above us, until our feet wandered lightly up each step and the bright sunlight greeted our glimmering faces. The sun offered the first suggestion of beauty, making obvious the contrast between the lively city and the hollow station to which we had just inhabited.
As my feet finally reached the peak of the final step, my eyes awoke to the the gorgeous tapestry of Montmartre that lay beneath the bright kiss of sunlight. All at once, the overemphasized city of love which I never believed in, suddenly became my dream. The stories which I had read and art I had seen suddenly made sense and appeared like crystal shimmering against the light.
Montmartre, the place where artists once swarmed like butterflies to drink the finest nectar that France had to offer, now stood as a living monument for passionate tourists and aspiring artisans. I felt an uneasy familiarity with this neighborhood, my feet following an unestablished path leading desirously into the heart of the town, the very soul of history itself.
It was said to once be a place of questionable morality, the Moulin Rouge watching over the streets with glimmering eyes full of alluring fantasies, while equally attractive cabarets crowded nearby. Yet, musicians, artists, writers, architects and so many aspiring others thrived in its bohemian culture, transfixed with a common distaste for modern politics.
I looked down at the cobblestone which cradled my feet, the very stone which Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, and Picasso drew their finest inspirations from. It was the old world which I was entering, an array of whimsy and creativity which bear no limits. As I walked along further, The past and present met and welcomed me with equally alluring smiles, making it impossible to pick a side.
Cafés lined the streets, leading the way for us fixated travelers, each person who sat making quaint conversation, with a unique story to share. I smiled at each face who stared at our large tour group, imagining that one day I too would be considered “a local” who young people would admire.
As we approached the top of the hill, there became a clear divide between reality and fantasy. Artists flocked in the center square, easels placed to display their finest works and greatest stories. I now walked through the illusioned world, my mind grasping the finest details like the stroke of a brush against canvas. The place where I stood was it’s own symphony and I played a part in it’s heartening tune.
Montmartre represented a world full of enchanting possibilities, far away from the reality of society. In both the past and present, it had the capability of encapsulating life as it was meant to be lived, free and beautifully. It was music, art and passion which greeted my soul and drew me into it’s enchanting wonder, memories walking amongst humans into the bright sun of life.
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