Paris-Aesthetic Paradise, Overwhelming Knowledge 🇫🇷

Hi! I haven’t blogged much about Paris because I’ve felt more overwhelmed than inspired here. Even so, there are a few iconic things I’ve seen that are worth noting.

For one, the Eiffel Tower has been amazing and I’ve been there three times in the last four days. Seeing the lights dance across the Eiffel Tower was the definite highlight of the first day in Paris. I had felt lost and confused in a big new city and very tired and homesick, but seeing such an iconic image in person reminded me why I’m here and warmed my heart. Having the bragging rights is also pretty sweet.

On the second day, the only thing I did was go to the Louvre, but that was more than enough for one day. We walked through centuries of priceless history and only took in a fraction of it. We walked through Ancient Greek and French and Roman and Egyptian art but we were only after the Mona Lisa. Of course, it’s an iconic painting and everyone wants to have the proof that they were there. But beyond that, why? What is the appeal of the Mona Lisa apart from the mythic status among tourists? I ask myself this as I get in a 20-minute line, as I am funneled through endless escalators with practiced and indifferent efficiency. Why do I want the bragging rights to the Eiffel Tower but not the Mona Lisa? I don’t have a particular connection to either, and Mona is the older and more iconic of the two. Yet I stood in the line, marveling less at Mona herself and more at the sheer amount and diversity of those seeking to stand in the presence of history.

Also, this is the origin of the popular meme, so that was an unexpected surprise. But again, the idea of commodified history puzzles me. Many people know this picture not because of historical significance but because of an internet fad. How did this painting in particular become an internet sensation?

There’s so much here that I’ve gotten overwhelmed. But I needed to get to Shakespeare and Co and it is AESTHETIC HEAVEN!

The original shop was opened in 1922 by Sylvia Beach and remained until 1941. Many literary expatriates gathered there such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce. The second shop was opened in 1951, and has remained an iconic tourist destination for those seeking to drink from the fountain of knowledge and inspiration.

I only saw the “no pictures” sign at the bottom of the stairs when I was done. 😊

If I spent every minute of every day of the rest of my life reading the books in the store, I might get through a quarter of the entire collection. The entrance of the shop is deceptively small, but there are easily over 20,000 books in the shop. Everything from Shakespeare to Michelle Obama to Sophie Kinsella. I wish I hadn’t brought my backpack because i kept bumping into people and shelves

I enjoyed chatting with the local cashier and the sales associate from New York. I wanted to ask the New Yorker how he ended up in Paris, but he didn’t have time to chat.

I bought two books-“Know My Name” by Chanel Miller and “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference” by Greta Thunberg, and I can’t wait to read them and support two world-changing women. Greta Thunberg has shot to accolade for her striking speech at the 2019 UN Climate Action summit, and Chanel Miller is the real name of the woman who came forward against Brock Turner and got abominably screwed over by the justice system. Both women have unique experiences and powerful messages, and it feels fitting to buy their stories in a shop that is a shrine to a golden literary age.

It took me four days to feel comfortable enough to walk four blocks, but it was absolutely worth it. I’ve fallen in love with Paris at the worst possible time, seeing as we leave tomorrow. But I will return shortly and explore more of the quiet local streets and fill my well of inspiration.

Bon Voyage 🇫🇷 E


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