Walking through the streets of Paris is a little bit like experiencing two simultaneous realities at the same time. First, there is the obvious reality, the “real” one, the one that… well, you know what I mean.
But then, there is this second layer. A dense fabric of history, stories and movies; facts and fiction unseparably intertwined. Too many movie scenes have been shot in this city, too many books been written about it. Walking around quartier Latin, I half expect to see all kinds of literary figures among the crowd of tourists. The three musketeers and their friend d’Artagnan suddenly mingle with Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, Amélie Poulin and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon. No longer bound by time or chronology, a Jason Bourne, fleeing from Gare de Lyon meets Les Misérables, Napoleon and Marie Antoinette.
The intellectual brainwaves that have been eminating from this city throughout much of the 18th and 19th century still vibrate along the Seine and the dry voice of my high school history teacher emerges from somewhere deep down my mind: “Always remember: when Paris sneezes, Europe catches a cold.”
I’m not sure how valid this statement is today when it comes to the future of Europe (no offence), but personally, I did indeed catch a cold. I’m just not sure if any groundbreaking ideas will come from it.