So here we are at the last of my Paris posts. There have been more than I expected to write from a 4 day trip but the juice of the moments – the ones when you breathe a sigh and say to yourself ‘I can’t believe I am here: life is good’ – were far too good (I thought) to squeeze into less.
So how do I sum up such a fantastic trip? A break from the ordinary? Or immersion therapy of sorts?
The word pastiche emerged in French language in the late 19th century as a derivation from the Italian ‘pasticchio’. The Oxford Dictionary defines a pastiche as an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another artist, work or period. Paris is certainly that. But rather than being the imitator, the modern city holds quite a candle to its revolutionary past, the blood of hundreds of generations and thousands of iterations of itself embedded in its cobbled lanes and wide boulevards. So this post is my candle to the City of Lights. My Paris pastiche…
When I announced to my French colleague a couple of weeks ago that I was heading off to Paris, she gave me some great tips on her favourite haunts – more on that later – and also loaned me Paris: The Secret History, a book by Andrew Hussey which is a potted history starting with AD 987 and continuing right through to 2005 when the book was published. Being the history lover that I am, I delved right in a few days before I left. And I was still reading it while I visited – in parks and cafes and before going to sleep at night – and turned the final page on the Eurostar trip home.
Why is this important? Because Paris’ history lay not only beneath my sneakered feet but more specifically in a couple of the museums I chose to visit over the four days and this incidental reading material brought key events and their protagonsists more sharply into context and focus than any audio guide I could have hired.
So let me tell you a little about my pas de deux with Paris’ past.