From Sanssouci to Paris
Born and raised in Potsdam, a honorable, Prussian city, monuments in abundance are familiar to me. And yet it was the first, distant view on the Eiffel Tower near Trocadero during my first visit which triggered a spark.
This one moment changed everything.
I am self-employed, thanks to Moviejones.de, the film and series website that my brother and I founded in 2007, and so I could spend more and more time in Paris. At the beginning barely able to articulate more than “Bonjour“, I had a lot of doubts and thoughts: Can I just sit down in a café’s terrace, when it’s normally mandatory to be placed by the waiter? What if he bawls me out? Or the expensive metro ticket isn’t working anymore and no railway staff understands English?! In short, some fears unsettled me, which cause a smile today, and so the decision to learn French came up.
The months during my language course in 2012 are one of the most beautiful memories in my life. Also the most expensive, because it had to be a studio near Sacré-Cœur, obviously... I left, I came back, I moved from a furnished apartment in the north to the southeast, followed by the town center - and finally I decided to find something “for my own“. After several months of searching a flat and with much gain of experience later a small apartment in the 17th district became my great love for some years.
Meanwhile the native of Potsdam became Parisian in the heart. What was “exotic“ in the beginning (Calling the bus? Paying a horrendous residential tax every year? Entire streets that are orphaned in August?) became a habit - and yet there is always something new to discover. As a foreigner I have experienced the ease of the “Savoir vivre“ and many wonderful people, but also the annoyances of bureaucratic obstacles.
Although the Eiffel Tower was an eye-opener, it's not my favorite Parisian landmark. The Arc de Triomphe, built between 1806-1836, captivates with its clear form and imposing sculptures. Monumental, powerful - and adornment of the dreaded roundabout in the northwest of the city. Forget everything you know about traffic rules ...
Even if it is often jam-packed: I like taking the Metro. The agility with which one comes forward, the fluctuation, the co-flow in the “belly of Paris“, best with a great song on the headphones ... Especially on the bridges over the Seine and the elevated railway sections with their great view!
Paris is becoming increasingly pedestrian and cycling friendly, but a cycling city is still far away. Cycling is not easy, when pedestrians cross avenues at red lights, walking directly in your spokes or motorists recognize only at the last moment that there was someone in the blind spot. The selfishness of some cyclists does the rest and therefore much caution is needed if you want to cross Paris by Vélib’ or with a practical folding bike.
The 14th of July is special. On the one hand a pompous, archaic demonstration of power, on the other hand an impressive spectacle which one can hardly escape. For many years I have enjoyed seeing the military parade on the French national holiday with soldiers, tanks and the “défilé aérien“, the famous squadron of jet fighters - not to forget the gigantic fireworks near the Eiffel Tower which can be watched live or on TV.