Parisians’ disinterest

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 4. The Spirit of Place, Paris by Howard1 Comment

One thing I particularly like being a student abroad is that I no longer tell people I come here for vacation or travel and instead I say I live here. With this mindset, every time I walk past The Eiffel Tower or The Louvre, I will walk faster with the sense of disdain in order to reveal that I’m not a tourist and I am not astonished by any of these things which I see every single day. I guess this somewhat makes me a little bit more like a local Parisian. However, less than disdain, the emotion true Parisians are holding is plain and disinteresting.

This disinterest thus creates the “spirit of place”. In New York, the noticeable traits are the awful smells and the chaos. One can easily walk into some unidentifiable smell which probably is the combination of weeds, piss, and fragrance; One will also hear the clamor in the dark side, all day all the times. This is “the spirit of place” of New York City. In Paris, it was never too loud. The city is filled with careless whisper. On the streets, one hears the steps of people from different walks of life, but quiet as if even the world collapses they will only mind their own business. One smells the freshness of bread, mixed with that of the road minutes after rain.

With no tall mansions in the sights, one always walk among look-alike architectures, and then there comes a random tapping of a well-known landmark. Parisians, who are already used to all the scenes, have every reason to be indifferent. They are not impressed because they are parts of them. Usually found in a restaurant is the quietness of every one savoring whatever is stuffed in their months along with some light laughter. I find this vibe so smooth that I easily can find that empty of minds anywhere in the city. Alongside the Seine, there were benches prepared for wanderers. Many enjoy sitting there and feeling the breeze lifting the fringe of hair. At those moments, I find myself not worrying any other thing that usually burdens me but only caring to hold my coffee cup with more strength to feel the warmth it has.

As Durrell puts, “I imagine the traveler in each of us has a few blind spots due to some traumatic experience with an empty tea-urn or the room-on-the-landing. This cannot be helped. The great thing is to try and travel with eyes of the spirit wide open, and not too much factual information. To tune in, without reverence, idly—but with real inward attention.”


  1. Hi Howard~!

    I completely understand not wanting to be seen as a tourist and walking faster instead of looking up to gaze at the sights that have become a part of everyday life. In New York, even though there are some really beautiful buildings in SoHo, I have always hesitated to look up when walking up Broadway to Washington Square. I really like what you consider to be the reasoning behind Parisian’s disdain to the beautiful environment surrounding them, “because they are parts of them”. A person’s environment over time becomes apart of who they are, but I personally do not think that the place loses its appeal.


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