Mon Paris, mon amie Life & Style

5/5/2011 by Dina Nurpeissova Kazakhstan

So many stories, essays and articles have been already written about Paris, probably the most adorable city of the world! Not so much would I like to praise the architectural style, the savor vivre, the dynamic rhythm of the daily life of the French capital, but rather the array of the extraordinary people I would meet in my short stay of four months. In the end, it is not monuments, buildings, alleys and streets that make living there so vibrant, but the people - Parisians or those who become them.

Oh, Paris! Everything has its flair, its elegance, and certain perfume here - especially when your day begins with waking up in one of the most beautiful areas - Montmartre, where my sojourn of the following months would begin. My first month in the once so artistic and now so touristic area, living on la rue de Trois Frères - where possibly the house of Amélie Poulain was located - was full of unforgettable moments. Somehow this corner of Paris would have its own incomparable flair, allowing a melancholic walker to be awarded a fantastic panorama of the city from its highest hill. How many times did I wonder about the successful functioning of the extremely cheesy representation of the French culture around place du Tertre, which seems an ironic shadow of what it had been once? But it doesn't seem to worry those masses of tourists that arrive every day and are attacked by those desperate portraitists! Down the Montmartre hill, at "le bar des amis", a popular locale to see and be seen on Friday night, I would meet Mikael, a comédiene, who spontaneously invited me to join his bohemian crowd of artists. In moments you even start to feel that spirit of those past times, when the Surrealists would hang out together in of those legendary bars, exchanging views and discussing the ideas put forth by Breton, Picasso, Dali. Mikael loves living in Montmartre; he couldn't live elsewhere. By absolute chance, next to metro station Blanche I would meet someone from beloved Italy, Aurelio, who studies medicine and loves playing jazz on the piano. He even brought - from faraway Naples - his instrument, in order to continue to practice in his little apartment with a view of Moulin Rouge. Believe me, this view was a dream! For a month I lived near the station Abbesses. Its square, Place Abbesses, is an inspiration itself! Every week, in the warmer months of the year, there is always something happening: a flea market, street concert, or other cultural activity for the locals. Birdy Nam Nam, now an internationally successful French DJ Project, became famous with their track named after this square. Why? Very simple - one of the artists lived there.
From the area where the artists once created and enjoyed their artistic life we move on where the souls found their last peace forever: Père Lachaise. The cemetery became the last place to rest for such big artists as Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Jim Morrison. And so many more! In the 20th arrondissement I would spent the following months living with students from Bordeaux, understanding more of the culture, the country and finally the language. It's not the easiest thing when French people speak so fast! The lightness and easy-going nature of living together with my roommates was something I will never forget: Antoine, Yoann, Alex, and Nicolas have entered my Parisian diary as four different individuals, each having his own amazing quality. Taking into the house one "kazakh-allemande" who was desperately searching for a place to stay in such big city was a gesture I will always be thankful for. Although the area around Metro Gambetta is not the Paris the tourist actually seeks, still I am thrilled to know this authentic side of living in the French capital. Boutiques, shops, little theaters and actually the hospital where the fabulous Edith Piaf was born marked my area. You become part of the zone easily, literally even physically, by taking on the same rhythm of walking or by developing the habit to go with a crowd directly from the metro to the next boulangerie, ordering une baguette.
Well, not to overlook the experiences of not so magnificent Paris, I saw everyday - homeless people having to warm up in the metro station, occupying benches and seats, the only places left to them. Rude masses of people at the rush hour also could be another negative reality that awaits you at the tube (so, think twice about going to the airport with your luggage in hand on the subway!). Paris can be tough, tiring and ignorant and you feel it.
But, back to the characters that made this city so vibrant to me. The communist center on Place de Colonel in the 10th Arrondissement reminded me of a lost spaceship in the middle of nowhere, trying to still state with a vibrant voice that it had no intention of leaving. For many years the left wing has been losing power in the French political reality. These days "the spaceship" actively rents its "space" for conferences and events, during which I found my next Parisian character, Pacome, a young writer and philosopher, with fresh ideas that are just inspiring. It is he who will give a perfect, comprehensible introduction on the contemporary state of French society, without leaving out his own ironic comments. By chance in one of the brasseries of the city, somewhere close to Place d'Italie, I would meet Mathieu who would host the most unforgettable jam sessions on the twenty second floor of his apartment till six in the morning, inviting all the amazing musicians from his social and professional circle. Believe me, the best parties are those that take place chez lui! Myriam, a Vietnamese French girl, at home in the 9th arrondissement, speaks perfect English and would be my introduction to the French Asian circle. Nonetheless, despite trying to find herself in the big city, she would dedicate her precious time to her international friends from China, Kyrigistan and Korea, organizing amazing "Galette des Rois" parties, a cake with a hidden surprise - a marvelous tradition at the beginning of the year that brings together people from different environments: at work, at home, or at a party. The Japanese community in Paris is quite big. Arriving recently from Tokyo are Shotaro, the filmmaker, and Tono working as pastry chef that I easily made friends with. Meeting these two incredible open-minded guys, speaking wonderfully foreign languages, I could go deeper into my curiosity about the country from the Orient and finally get rid of the personal stereotype regarding the difficulties in the communication with the Japanese. How amazed I was to find a little piece of my homeland next to the Arch de Triumph! Elitaou, a girl from Kyrgistan, an anthropologist, would decorate her little apartment with central Asian things. Once she came to Paris to study from Chinzig Aitmatov, the famous writer ("Djamilia") from the region, she decided to stay and to work on her research. At last, I cannot forget to mention that it was partly thanks Polyglot Club Paris that gave me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people that I could write and write about.
Well, being a French intern or a member of the Polyglot events, neighbor in Montmartre, or the only feminine colocataire in the flat I shared, in time I started to realize why Paris attracts people from all over the world. It is the spirit, the stories that you can live only here! Paris is a city to love or to hate. It is so true: this place doesn't leave anyone without strong emotions.

Dina Nurpeissova Kazakhstan

Sorry, you must sign in to Leave your comment

Forgot your password? | Join us it's free