Paris: My City of Magic

I don’t remember visiting a museum before I was nineteen. I took a fashion merchandising course in Europe over the winter interim in college, and our first stop was Paris.

The city opened up the whole world to me. Aside from a high-school graduation trip to Cancun and an excursion to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, I had never left the U.S.

As I explored Paris, I was particularly fascinated by cultural, architectural and culinary differences from the U.S. But there were little differences, too, that caught my attention: the placement of traffic lights, the nonexistent separation between the ladies’ and the men’s bathrooms, the homogeneous fashion trends, the adorable little dogs.

I was told that the French were rude and didn’t like Americans. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. I loved the French and they were kind to me! I laughed about being a 19-year-old girl, so every French guy wanted to “practice his English” with me, but really, I found the French to be funny, though a bit sardonic, and kind, though a little abrupt. As a Philly girl, I thought this was perfect.

But let me get back to the museums. Aside from loving Paris and the French, I fell head over heels in love with Impressionism on that trip.

Imagine that you have never been to a museum and the Musée d’Orsay was your first excursion into the world of art. I stood before this painting, and my whole world changed:

I had never heard of Vincent van Gogh or Claude Monet or Edgar Degas. But when I saw their work for the first time, I felt like they knew me. It was like they reached out and tugged at my soul and said, “Hey, I’m listening. I understand … and by the way, the world is full of magic.”

I walked around Paris with a freed spirit and a rich perspective that has never dulled.

That winter 20 years ago, I was supposed to write a paper about fashion merchandising, but I decided to write about culture instead. What hit me more than anything was how we all perceive and approach the world a little differently, but if we understand where our neighbors are coming from, we may be a little kinder and a little more open to observing new customs and bridging the gap with cultural understanding. Life is better that way.

When I returned to Paris this week for the first time since then, I felt exactly the same way. I laughed at the French sense of humor, wandered the streets of Paris with a sense of awe, and cried at the d’Dorsay and the l’Orangerie as my old friends van Gogh, Monet and Degas greeted me with their magic on canvas.


~ LiAnn

Published by LiAnn & Theo

We're not twenty-something backpackers taking a trek around the world (anymore). We work full time and spend every spare dollar and minute on our wanderlust. We live to travel. Exploring new cultures, meeting people from around the world, sharing food, drink and music—all this reminds us that we are one tribe. We write how-to tips to help you have a smooth journey as well as our inner thoughts on new places we explore. Let us know what you think!

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