In 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Paris, and I learned about how the city influenced young artists and writers in the early 20th century. One particular American writer we studied prior to departure was James Baldwin. I knew the terror threat was growing, ever since the shootings at Charlie Hebdo happened two months earlier, however the threat did not deter me nor the others I traveled with. No one knew exactly eight months later the country would be under attack yet again. No matter what the French have faced or might face in the future, they are just as resilient as us New Yorkers. As we visited places where James Baldwin studied and wrote, it was quite clear what drew him to Paris.
Contrary to popular belief, not all French people are rude. Sure some people were, but just as many were not. In fact, many people we met were very welcoming to us. One person we talked to was an artist; I am sure we must have spent an hour just talking to him about art and culture in France. He even painted a new painting of us and a special portrait of a model in our group right there in front of us. It is so easy to get immersed in French culture like art, literature and music, to list a few, when you are visiting the country. Something unique about Paris is that it is the city of light, yes, especially when you see the Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) sparkling every hour on the hour for 15 minutes until 1am but, it is also a very antique city.
A unique characteristic about Paris is that even as we move quickly into the future, the city has kept its quaint charm of a classic European city. Although its iconic French architecture is actually what makes the city timeless. This idea can be prominently seen in my signature Paris photograph from the trip of a vintage Eiffel tower and city below. The rudimentary look of the city has not changed in decades, and I believe that brings about the city’s inspiration and wonder to artists, musicians, writers and tourists alike. It also provides great insight as to how James Baldwin saw the city in the 1960’s. There is a building code in Paris which preserves this iconic look and forbids the building of skyscrapers in the city’s center and surrounding arrondissements. However, in the La Défense district, the business district of Paris (seen in image 2 of the first Paris gallery), you will find an array of new, tall, modern buildings. This also just happens to be the area where our hotel was.
New images including Versailles, Pére Lachaise Cemetary, The Catacombs, The Louvre, Inside Notre Dame and everyday Paris are still being edited and will be uploaded soon!