There’s a song which I always associate with Paris.
Please listen to it, I hope it will evoke memories of your favourite city too.
It was around the time I got my driving licence, and my friends and I ventured out on some short weekend trips.
When I crossed the border from Germany into France for the first time – at that time, there were still borders and controls – after just a few kilometres, I felt as though I had landed in a completely different world.
I’m still talking about the drive on the French motorway.
When the second or third motorway bridge came along, I noticed that each one looked completely different. As if a different architect wanted to set the scene, to build his life’s work, his art as a monument. There were also the yellow spotlights on French cars and a speed limit, which was unknown in Germany at the time. As I said, it was like living in another world.
I have now been working for an international company for a long time, and they also have branches in France.
Years ago, one of the management team from France was with us at the Oktoberfest here in Munich. A highlight for every visitor. Then I received an invitation to France, into the beautiful South. This invitation turned into numerous visits, professional synergy talks over red wine with fish, olives, and baguettes under the French sun. According to my field of expertise, plans, ideas, and drafts spun together, some implemented, others better abandoned.
The stays became longer, and two weeks became three or four or more. Friendships developed among colleagues and private invitations, cooking, and eating together, excursions to the sea or the mountains. Luchon, Biarritz, Bayonne, the small garlic village of Saint Clar with its “Salle de L’Ail” and the pretty church.
Visited the Lac de Cap de Long. On the way up by car, I watched in amazement as a cyclist still pedalled from his seat on a gradient of the mountain where even pushing would be too hard for me.
In Lourdes, I accidentally left my car key outside the car in the lock, in a crowded car park… The key was still precisely at the same place in the lock. I had been there for several hours, and nothing was missing.
I also experienced Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux as a visitor. And Paris. Always Paris. Out of the night train from Munich, the daily pulse begins, and the shops open into the morning life. Starting with a coffee, back then, you were still allowed to smoke at the counter. Each of the smoking guests flicked the ashes onto the floor while enjoying a fresh coffee while standing, like me. The aroma of fresh croissants, which the waiter just pushed into the display, wafted over.
A woman once asked me for directions on a sunny Friday somewhere in Paris. I replied, I’m sorry, I’m not from here. Because my answer was in English, she asked me if I was a tourist. Yes, I said, I’m just here for the weekend, and I’m going on to Toulouse, to work, after the weekend. “Ohhh – Toulouse, Ville Rose!” was her reply. So, we chatted for another ten minutes about beautiful Toulouse and our many impressions of this city
Just leaving the Louvre and walking through the adjacent park, it started to rain a few drops. The very next moment, I had one of those umbrella sellers next to me, offering me an umbrella for 10 euros. I was not angry with him. I was happy with myself and this day. He offered me the umbrella, as I refused, for 9 euros, then for 8 euros. I declined his offer again, and he turned away from me with an expression I didn’t understand. I didn’t mind because at that moment – those of you who know – understand what I mean – I was just happy. I didn’t mind the few drops. And if it would start to rain harder, then I would get wet – I was just glad to be here at this moment.
Paris, your people, your visitors. Paris, your flair, your neighbourhoods, the Eiffel Tower, your museums and your churches, your bridges and your rainy days, which thank God also exist.
Paris, I love you! France, I love you!
God willing, we will meet again one day after this pandemic.
I have folders full of beautiful pictures from my visits. But here, I have chosen blurry images from Paris. Photos that are usually discarded, blurred, just as my memories fade. But what remains is love!