The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We'll Always Have Paris (as a Backup)

I've lived in France for over a year now, and I've never been to Paris.

That seems very strange to most Americans, whose travels in France involve Paris almost without exception; it seems stranger to French people, for whom Paris is France in many ways.

Paris' importance to the country, going back to Louis 14th's massive centralisation program, cannot be overstated: It is Washington DC (government), New York (center of culture), and Boston (history) rolled into one, and you might as well throw in Philly for good measure. As with the American Northeast, apart from the opposite coast everything else is flyover country. It's where you go when you've made it, when you've left your dusty little hometown of Vacheamour-sur-Culterreux in your rearview. It's where the money is, where the people are, where it's at.

Oddly, I haven't been in a big hurry to visit--we've made two trips to Burgundy and three to Provence before we started thinking seriously about Paris. Apart from the big-time monuments and tourist attractions, many of the things Americans visit Paris for we have right here in Lyon.

Winding cobblestone streets? Vieux Lyon has more Renaissance buildings than all of Paris put together.
Hausmann boulevards? Um, I live on one. Next.
Outdoor markets? Yeah, done that, a couple of times a week.
Haute couture? My nearest mailbox is on the side of the Hermes store; my nearest ATM is next to the Dior boutique (I haven't set foot in either place and probably won't unless I do something very very wrong and V demands restitution).
Fancy restaurants? Lyon's a better foodie town, and any Parisian will tell you that.

Sure, Paris has the Louvre... but with two small children I'm not going anywhere near that line. I'm saving up my kids-tolerating-a-lengthy-museum-visit karma for the Uffizi, anyway.

There's the Arc de Triomphe... but there's one in Orange that's the real deal, not a Napoleonic knockoff, and doesn't have 8 lanes of traffic screaming manaically around it.

La Tour Eiffel, bien sur... did I mention V doesn't like heights? Plus, oddly enough, Lyon's got one o' them, too.

No, we're going to Paris this weekend for two reasons:
Nursing bras and dim sum.

Explanation and some pictures to come when we get back. Happy Labour Day.


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