Above: the rainy view of Paris from Montmartre close to the Sacre Coeur (and my hostel)
I literally felt I could be violently ill at any second for the two days before I left Melbourne. A combination of nerves about leaving my gorgeous friends, my darling handsome man, my indifferent little silver fur baby and of course my wonderful family as well as anxiety as to whether I was even capable of existing on my own – having always been terrible at keeping and enjoying my own company…well, thanks Paris, I am now that little bit more confident in my ability to find my way around another country. Especially one where the locals may very well know how to speak English but refuse to do so and all the words are pronounced nothing like they are spelled!
I spent my first day exploring the thousands of stalls of knitted, printed and woven or non-woven textiles, yarn, leathers, furs (real and faux), diamantes, buttons and trims, as well as technology developments and processors at the Premiere Vision Textile Trade Show. What a mind blowing experience for a little girl who grew up in Southern Tasmania!!
I mean, I just walked right in to the Liberty sales stall where people were talking about $million purchases and popped my head in on Harris Tweed – the most famous woven material in the world – for goodness sake!! Realistically just being in Europe is pretty mind blowing but being in the largest Textile Trade show in Europe with people buying, selling, hawking, gawking, walking and talking at the absolute cutting edge of the dress textiles world – what an amazing atmosphere to drift into! It made me feel so very small and insignificant but at the same time confident that one day I too could be one of those amazing designers in the Indigo section with their amazing swatches on display in the most inspiring textiles bazaar on the planet! With signs everywhere saying no photographs I was too scared to actually take even a sneaky snap inside – plus with all the best dressed Europeans flowing to either side of me as I drifted from stall to stall I was more than just a little intimidated by it all! I will say, that in typical style I was the most brightly dressed person I saw, and was rewarded by a few up and down glances, some sneers and even a roll of the eyes from one particularly haggard looking lady who reminded me of Patsy (of Ab Fab fame) except nowhere near as chic! Despite this it was truly one of the most inspiring experiences I have had as a textile designer so far!!
I then spent the next day exploring the city by foot with a gorgeous Brazilian girl – we went under the Arc D’Triumph, up the Eiffel Tower, along the Champ De Mars and the Champ de Elysee, through le Louvre (but not inside it) across the bridge of locks, past Notre Dame, along the Siene past the rather ugly Universite de Paris to the Jardin des Plantes et Managerie then up to the Bastille, past Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge (and the multitude of sex shops surrounding it) until we finally arrived at the hostel. What an exhausting day! Though like my first day – full of visual stimulation and joy at seeing so many wonderful landmarks that I have heard so much about and only ever dreamed of from afar!
Now I finally have time to write about it all as I am sitting on the train heading at great speed towards London.
Reflecting on the key points of Paris I would say:
1 – the people are really friendly as long as you aren’t in need of help or standing in their shop without a word of French to your name, then they are the opposite of friendly! (I did have several gorgeous people assist me with my unbelievably heavy suitcase including up the 5 flights of stairs to the hostel without even asking for it – too bad the man in the button shop in Montmartre didn’t have some of that helpful quality as if he had bothered to remain as excited as he had been when I first entered once he learned I couldn’t speak French then I might have bought one of his ludicrously priced buttons as a souvenir from Paris – as a general rule I’m just not that into souvenirs!)
2 – French people reserve the right to piss wherever they damn well want to! Including but not exclusively relating to the Metro which in every nook and cranny smelt like a men’s urinal that was continually used and then left to fester for a long time by cleaners that were on permanent strike….it was RIPE!! I also noticed a man casually pissing on a small sapling in a little garden off the Champ De Elysee – as no doubt – did the other 1000 or so people walking along the same world famous street at that exact same time!
3 – everything is Tres Grand in Paris! All the buildings are so old and regal looking, everywhere I turned I was greeted with lovely architectural features, statuesque edifices from days gone by – many many days – coming from a country where our architectural story is so young it is quite amazing to see a city where the buildings are so obviously belonging to an era from so long ago in history. This was particularly apparent when the city is viewed from the top of the Eiffel tower as the relative short and squatness of the city is so different to the other metropolises that I have visited in the past. You can see why it is considered the ‘city of love’ as the beautiful wrought iron balconies and wonderful stone details attest – however I couldn’t help but think the entire city looked a little tired. The facades were covered in grime, the streets and sidewalks were covered in cracks and potholes but the romance was still undeniably there.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m down on Paris – because I am definitely not – it was wonderful but I can certainly believe that Paris would be a completely different experience if visiting with the one you love as opposed to flying solo! Next time maybe…
And so here I am now sat on a train carriage full of precocious little Primary school children on my way to the next leg of my adventure – here I come UK – watch out!!