By: Katie Thompson People are constantly intrigued as to why an Australian would be living in Paris, and I haven’t ever really bothered to think of a reason beyond the aesthetic, so it’s time I worked it out, and you’re all coming along with me. It is no surprise that artists have always flocked to Paris. Her milky light in the mornings and afternoons is something I have never seen anything quite like. The way the streetlights glow in the afternoons, and shadows become long and distorted remind me of the work of André Kertesz, and every single time I see the Hotel De Ville I am warmly reminded of ‘Le Baiser’, the moment of passion captured by the wonderful Robert Doisneau. Sadly, apart from art, I never learnt anything at school that really got me excited about learning, something that intrigued me so far that I would actively seek out extra information to quench a thirst I should have had. History was comprised of ancient Greece, a smidge of Egypt and touched slightly on our own brown land and, while interesting enough, the curriculum left me hanging on such fascinations as the Romans, world wars and how the incredible cities and natural formations of the world came about. On any day in any part of Paris I can pass by an address that was once home to the inventor of something we today cannot live without, the last residence of an incredible writer, the grave of any of my photographic heroes, a cafe frequented famously by Hemingway or Picasso – hell even Piet Mondrian had his studio up the street from my apartment. It’s like being in the presence of greatness, despite their times having passed, everything left behind still moves us and, for me, they still pass within the crowds of the city at any given moment. In the Loire Valley I stood at the foot of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Tomb in a tiny church overlooking the city of Amboise, where inside the adjoint Chateaux I recently learnt that King Charles VIII had hit his head and died in 1498. I am addicted to reading about the history of France, and in particular Paris, and love to revisit the places and buildings mentioned. Once I was even reading a book over an espresso at Gare du Nord and in those very few pages a murder took place right at the station. I would liken it to living on a theatre set. The script, set and director could change at any minute, but the colours are always the same. The professions that have existed through generations amaze me. There is a man still hand-carving crucifixes in his untidy shop window, the horloger now run by the daughter of the family, the street markets that pop up a couple of times a week selling all manner of country fresh goods,and the dozens of hand-painted babushkas on the walk from St Germain-des-Prés towards the Ladurée, founded in 1862, on Rue Bonaparte. Even the streets teach you history. I love to imagine the man behind the shiny zinc comptoir of a café at 14 years of age, sweeping up the sugar packets, cigarettes and croissant crumbs, having worked his way up on little espresso shaped steps over the years, and today he fields the shouted requests from the waiters for coffee, wine or fresh juice, all without breaking a sweat. Now why would someone so accustomed to wide open spaces have a desire to pay too much for a shoebox without a kitchen or a toilet? It’s a character-building exercise of course, because that little box with the slanted wall and view to the Opéra Garnier, Tour St Jacques and Sacré Coeur is my piece of Paris, and when I step outside I enter my movie scene, walk amongst the impossibly chic French women, handsome boys in suede moccasins and well-cut shirts, to find a spot in the sun in the park where a certain celebrated writer used to catch pigeons when there weren’t enough francs to go around. I can ride my bike past the Eiffel Tower (she still gives me goosebumps), peek through the cracks in the fence to Rodin’s lovely round- derriered men in his delightful garden gallery, revisit so many scenes of so many movies, or simply have a kip on the short grass inbetwixt the Louvre and the Tuileries garden. So the answer remains quite similar, but I don’t need to explain why I love Paris, I just do, in so many ways. To attempt a full understanding wouldn’t be dissimilar to you explaining everything you love about the one you do. I’m just so happy that she loves me back.
- Dixieland in Toronto
- Top Three Parks in Paris: Monceau, Buttes Chaumont and Montsouris