The other Paris

Whilst many of us might have adopted the Parisian aesthetic for our living room or bedroom décor, nothing can truly beat being at the heart of it all. As someone who’s been not once, not twice, but three times in the space of 3 years, I can safely say this capital is the gift that keeps on giving.

Here are some of the most magical, lively and eccentric areas of Paris.

Typically coined the city of love, many are attracted to this tourist spot for its majestic architecture, quaint cafes and delicious cuisine. Those are the iconic stereotype most tourists think of when they imagine Paris. Yet if we transcend those clichéd images of men with curly moustaches wearing berets, we realise that Paris is enriched with a unique and vibrant culture, captivating each and every one of your senses.

Here are some of the most magical, lively and eccentric areas of Paris which I believe have contributed to Paris’s highly romanticised aesthetic.

Montmartre – Where Art Thrives:

We all recognise Haussmann’s renovation of the Paris city centre with its iconic broad straight boulevards and fashionable apartment houses. But how about a snippet into more authentic village life?

Welcome to Montmartre! A charming cobbled street neighbourhood which greatly appealed to artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. As you watch a plethora of artists hard at work letting their droplets of paint come to life on their canvas, you can whet your appetite just a few yards away at one of their bistros. It’s not hard at all to get lost in the beauty of the traditional village atmosphere; a scene that feels right out of a romantic period drama. People usually come here for the artsy yet community like feel to the place which is sadly often missed out on when amongst the hurly burly of the city centre.

But if you start missing Paris’ iconic grand architecture, how about a walk to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Sincere devotion to the heart of Christ amongst the French people is echoed in the landmark’s structure – exuding grace and majesty. A true spiritual awakening even for those who are not religious. As well as featuring the largest mosaic in France, measuring no less than 480 square meters!

This area, in and of itself, embodies Paris’ familiar artsy aesthetic; not just in instigating an artist’s creative flow, but for its serene and picturesque qualities which every visitor can admire.

Moulin Rouge –  Spectacular, Spectacular!

The energy in this show seems boundless.

You’ll definitely be dumb with wonderment after a night at the legendary Moulin Rouge Cabaret. This striking landmark is the architype of the bohemian era of French history with its lavish avant-garde performances. Despite its current polarised reception, with some describing it as more gaudy than glamorous, it’s definitely a go to place for those looking to experience the colourful vitality of the can-can, circus and cabaret. 

The whole venue radiates pure decadence from the dim lighting and plush décor creating the perfect ambiance to immerse yourself in the traditional romanticised Belle Époque lifestyle. Once the show begins, you’re thrown into the deep-end with what feels like a never-ending fanfare. One minute you’re hanging of the edge of your seat watching the dazzling acrobatics. Then next you’re in awe at the physical prowess of the French cancan dancers. The energy in this show seems boundless.

As extravagant as this show is, I will admit this one’s an acquired taste. Anyone who’s tired of the familiar circus gimmicks with the presence of clowns and ventriloquist may find it treading on tacky territory. However, despite its quirks being hit or miss for a lot of people, that bright windmill serves as an illustration of Paris’ innovative advances in performing arts which has since attributed to its glitzier and more flamboyant aesthetic. 

Argentine Tangos by the Seine:

This sensual appreciation, above all else, warrants this place to be named “the most romantic city in the world.”

Last but certainly not least, we have a charming display of the sensual side of Parisian life. It is the city of love after all! Meander along the Jardin Tino-Rossi and you’ll be swept up by the passionate music and romance all within a small amphitheatre.  Couples move seamlessly from one step to the other pulling of a dynamic and incredibly intimate dance.

It’s impossible not to be entranced by the fluidity of movement meaning some passers-by simply come to spectate and savour the atmosphere.  If you’re lucky, a Parisian may ask you to dance.

Such a romantic scene lifts the spirits of each and every visitor. Whether you’re just spectating or putting on those dancing shoes, this place uncovers the tender sensual core of Parisian life. This sensual appreciation, above all else, warrants this place to be named “the most romantic city in the world.”

By Katie Heyes

Image: Chiara Costa via Flickr

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