LD: Finding the Romance in Paris

Rebecca Cao DiplomatThis post is part of Le Diplomate series, in which I will chronicle my travel joys and tribulations as an intern for the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. OECD in Paris.

Contrary to popular belief, Paris is not that romantic. In fact, the only PDA-oh-my-God-we’re-in-Paris-together couples I’ve encountered are all tourists. Compared to certain cities in Asia, where everyone (girl-guy, girl-girl, guy-guy) walks around with hands interlaced, Paris is downright unromantic. The poor men that carry bundles of roses and stalk couples to try to sell them one never, ever succeed. I figured that a few particularly guilty men would give the peddlers some business, but nope. Whereas some of the sellers proposition nicely, most end up shoving a rose into your armpit and forcing you to pay for it. Quelle romance.

Last night, though, after the rain finally eased and the sun made a last-minute appearance, I managed to find the most charming corner of Paris. Although I claim to hate tourists and the areas they frequent, I couldn’t help but love Montmartre. The winding alleys, tilted roads, and historical architecture reminded me very much of Spain. I have such a soft spot for old towns and a tranquil yet healthy nightlife. Imagine: petite café on the corner of two cobblestone streets, lit up with the door open, man playing beautifully on the piano…

Luc, my tour guide for the night.

Strolling the area without any idea where I was headed, I felt like the night was endless and time had frozen for me. From the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, I could see all of Paris below me — the Eiffel Tower with its night lights, the Montparnasse Tower soaring above the landscape, and the Carousel du Louvre marking the center of the city.

Unfortunately, time did not actually slow for me, and when I woke up this morning for work, I wished I’d slept earlier the night before. While the reality of being in meetings and the office all day contrasts sharply with the surreality of the Montmartre nightlife, I am lucky in that I love my work as much as I love being in the scene of a Monet painting. Now, I return to responsibility and occasionally mundane tasks and I await the next time an open door leads me into an alternative world.

What are your favorite traveling memories? Do you believe that the most magical moments in life are also the most ephemeral?

Au revoir,

R

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