Songs to get Parisian to

P1000203I’ve been in Paris for the last two weeks, and while bits have been lovely (new friends, cheap wine), others have been less inspiring (see my previous post on Paris). I am trying to get in the mood of being inspired by Paris so I asked some friends for their best songs about it – anywhere that inspires so much music must be alright. Right?

1. Aux Champs-Elysées

I know a more recent cover of this song, but I cannot for the life of me think who might sing it or where I know it from. This is a lovely song about a lovely street though.

2. Parlez-vous Français

Still on the theme of the Champs-Elysées but with rather more techno, Aussie outfit Art vs Science plays this song that never fails to get me pumped.

3. Paris is Burning

Another antipodean, Ladyhawke’s Paris is Burning is a song with a quiet intensity. I love the insistence of the harmonies and the fact that it’s actually quite a quick beat even though it feels a kind of medium tempo. Not sure the film clip is actually filmed in Paris, though.

4. Offenbach’s Galop Infernal (aka the Can-Can)

This one is my own little video of gay Paris that I made for my mum. The music was recorded by my friend Laurence, who is part of superFLORENCEjam and is the long thin one in techno duo Happy Music Radio Hour. Check ’em out.

There are many more but these are my favourites. Suggestions are most welcome.

Why Paris is not all that

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Paris is the Emperor’s New Clothes of travel destinations. We’ve all been fed a myth about how great it is since we were born, through movies and images and novels, Audrey Hepburn and croissants. It’s so romantic, so chic, so transformative, etc.

Younger, more impressionable days

Younger, more impressionable days

I have been here (for Paris is my current location) three times now, and so have pondered it several times. The first time I came was with my ex-boyfriend, and I admit it was pretty romantic and stuff. We stayed in Montmatre like the n00bs we were, and went to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and the Arc d’Triomphe. I bought, wore berets. He gave me a rose. We drank wine and I put the table bread from restaurants into my pockets for later. It was all pretty vomitous.

Discussing Paris with a friend over Facebook chat, she revealed similar experiences:

Her: how’d you like Paris? I either have a billboard time when I go, or it’s shit

Me: well it’s been weird as I’m working in my flat most of the time and I’m living by myself, and the flat is in the suburbs so it really feels like I could be anywhere, just being a hermit. I’ve never loved Paris, I must say. It smells of pee and everyone is rude!

Her: AMEN!

Me: The first time I came was with [ex-boyfriend] and it was romantic and shit but the novelty has since worn off

Her: yeah, I went with my ex too. On New Years Day, EVERYTHING was closed. I went with my friend and had an awesome time. Coincidence? Hell no!

Parisian lemonade lived up to its name.

Parisian lemonade lived up to its name.

The next time I went was with my mum, and while it was very special hanging out with her there, I was much less blinded by the Paris bit and much more aware of the fact that there were cigarette butts everywhere, that shopowners swept their rubbish into the gutters, that they were mega unimpressed with my lack of language skills, that there were  pushy-to-the-point-of-intimidating street vendors. I saw a fight break out in the street during which someone left and returned with a massive wooden plank.

  • Not everyone is gorgeously stylish
  • Not all the food is to die for (in fact there is a lot that’s really crummy)
  • There’s litter everywhere
  • There are lots of young men who think that playing gangsta rap loudly on the train is acceptable

Paris: you are not perfect. But I have two more weeks here till I’m back in London, so I’m going to give it another chance. I know a good few people who have fallen in love with this place, so I’m sure they can’t all be talking crap… can they?