Flashback: Le 14 juillet à la Ville Lumière (07/18/13)

In anticipation of my forthcoming next adventure across the Atlantic, I have been regularly revisiting my first foray into Europe and into the blogosphere two years ago through my Flashback series. Enclosed below is an excerpt of a blog post about a whirlwind 14 juillet weekend in Paris.

 On my way home, I ducked into the air-conditioned refuge known as Tesco. While picking up some nectarines, I spotted a prepackaged Salad Niçoise on a nearby shelf. There was nothing particularly eye-catching about it. The tuna was in unappetizing clumps. The limp green beans looked more grey than green. It was the label “Salad Niçoise” itself that had drawn me in. In my mind, I conjured up an image of my last meal in Paris the previous weekend. It had been a simple dinner of Salad Niçoise, washed down with a toothachingly sweet chocolat froid à l’ancienne. Best of all, the garçon indulged my French without a whiff of condescension, unlike the somewhat supercilious garçon at Le Café de la Paix two nights ago. But to get to that, I have to start from the beginning.


As an inveterate Europhile, I came to Europe this summer with romanticized notions of the cities that I was to inhabit. I was fully aware of the fact that my vision of London was a glamorized one and, with that in mind, London in many ways met and even surpassed my expectations. But much as I consider myself to be an Anglophile – blame it on all those British history books and classes and nights of watching Sherlock and Downton Abbey – my romanticization of Paris was beyond compare.

My love affair with France began at an early age. While I had never visited France before last weekend, I had been fortunate enough to have grown up in a world infused with French culture, thanks to my parents’ time in France and my own childhood years in Quebec. Elementary school French language classes were exhaustingly repetitive and heavily reliant on mind-numbing, albeit entertaining, videos (Téléfrançais, anyone?). However, luckily, I had some fantastic French teachers later on, and by high school, I had fallen in love with the French language.

Adding to that, central to American romantic comedies is the Parisian romance that is falling in love with Paris itself: that promise that once you step onto the streets of Paris, the historic architecture will enrapture you, the impossibly flaky pastries will entice you, and the chatter of locals sipping wine al fresco late into the night will enchant you as you amble down a sun-drenched side street leading to the Seine. The sunset will be reflected and refracted off the river in a thousand shimmering planes of crimson and gold, setting the entire city ablaze, lighting the flames of romance between couples and stoking the fire of inspiration for aspiring artists.

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