As cliche as it may sound, there really is something indefinably special about walking through the heart of Paris at night. Stripped of all the touts and tourists and scammy sidewalk gamers, the normally crowded area surrounding the Eiffel Tower can feel downright deserted. Here, on some small street just between L’Hôtel des Invalides and the Eiffel Tower itself, I finally started to be able to picture what it might be like to live in Paris. A table on the sidewalk for dinner to watch a quiet discussion between strangers, all while that most famous monument shines silently in the background.
Every potential traveler know Paris. The Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Palace of Versailles. I don’t know of anybody who has ever visited the city without huge expectations built up beforehand. Yet, somehow it always delivers! That moment where you think to yourself “Wow, it really is everything I’ve heard about!”, whether that happens to be in the middle of the most touristed day of your trip or while you’re off exploring Paris Like a Parisian.
For every city I spend long enough in, this moment is the one most likely to stay with me well after I’ve departed the place itself. That one incredible second, or perhaps that one snap of the shutter after I’ve contemplated what it is that makes a scene beautiful, when all of a sudden my understanding shifts from seeing the city as a tourism destination to simply seeing the city for itself. In this city, on this night, it was this street. Next time in Bangkok or Buenos Aires? Who knows when or where it will be?