Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. There is no arguing this. I imagine there are more beautiful places; perhaps like Santorini, Tahiti, The Swiss Alps, or the green forests of China. But as far as an actual city, a major international one at that, in a hotbed of cultural shifts and living history, there is nothing more beautiful than Paris.
For aesthetic starters, virtually all the buildings in the central districts (called arrondissements) assemble a congruous harmony of neo-classical styled facades; all a kind of shade of white or ecru, dressed with beautiful adornments, flowers, shutters, drapes, and verandas. For more, let’s go to wiki!:
“For centuries, the city had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and half-timber houses, but, beginning in 1852, the Baron Haussmann‘s urbanisation program involved leveling entire quarters to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of bourgeoisie standing. Most of this ‘new’ Paris is the Paris we see today. The building code has seen few changes since, and the Second Empire plans are in many cases still followed. The “alignement” law is still in place, which regulates building facades of new constructions according to a pre-defined street width. A building’s height is limited according to the width of the streets it lines, and under the regulation, it is difficult to get an approval to build a taller building.
Many of Paris’s important institutions are located outside the city limit. The financial (La Défense) business district, the main food wholesale market (Rungis), schools (École Polytechnique, HEC, ESSEC, INSEAD), research laboratories (in Saclay or Évry), the largest stadium (the Stade de France), and government offices (Ministry of Transportation) are located in the city’s suburbs.”
Every street seems to be lined with beautiful trees and the layout of city couldn’t be more centralized and perfect. Transportation is a breeze (the most functional subway I’ve been on in my entire life too. You can get anywhere rather easily). The height of all the buildings too are kept in check lending even more significance to landmark filled skyline (eiffel, arc de triomph, notre dame, etc). And all the modern stuff is kept to the outskirts of the city, where it won’t disturb the mid-19th century vibe. It’s just all so jaw-droppingly beautiful. You can’t help but be swooned by the cityscape, I’m sure of this because it seems to be the only city which looks radiant in overcast conditions.
It bears mentioning that there is popular conception, both stateside and across the globe, that the French/Parisians have a wide range of negative characteristics: rude, self-indulgent, self-involved, infantile, cowardly, whatever you want to say. And while some of these are complete nonsense (particularly the cowardly stuff), it is also possible to declare that none of these are fair conclusions. These classic perceptions of French society are based perhaps on an accurate outward tone or displayed visage, but are then completely misunderstood or misinterpreted. To me, the French are the perpetual adolescents of Western Civilization, complete with all the good and yes, sometimes, bad that comes with that. It’s not so much a rudeness as it is a mode of behavior. They’re simply into their own way of life and their own way of doing things (which can also be a rather American habit). They have a young, idealistic sense of politics. They take art, food, politics, and social life as seriously as one can take them. They’re kind of like that smart kid from your freshman year of college, who’s smartness is in fact adolescent because they think they know everything (and while they do in fact know a lot, the whole “thinking they know everything” spurs on anomosity).
But isn’t that a good thing to have in the world? Am I missing something? The French (and thus the French mentality) is responsible for some much wonder and great things we wouldn’t have otherwise. The food alone is the most amazing thing on the planet. How can we not a love a country that can give us the greatest food in the world? Or the most beautiful city and buildings? Am I missing something? Perhaps people just can’t get over the hangups of a culture just have a different social code. I dunno. But even the much ballyhooed rudeness is so easily disarmed with a repeated smile and kindness. It’s almost as if they’re testing you and if you keep being nice they instantly come around.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I just went to Paris and abosutely loved it.
And I can’t wait to go back.