only to discover you both see two distinctly different things?
Does that make one of you right and the other wrong?
We usually chalk it up to one of those funny little things about life,
but it does make you wonder....
A point of view is a precious commodity, particularly in the world of travel.
The mental images we hold dear can make or break
a first impression or even color our entire trip.
I'm personally fond of Paris street art and love to take my time studying it.
You'll bump into examples of it all around town -- from the Butte-aux-Cailles to the Canal de l'Ourcq as well as posh Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the historic Marais.
The diverse streets of Belleville offer a stunning example of contemporary Paris, including quirky little rue Dénoyez, a spot that immediately captured
my attention and the wild side of my imagination.
But ask someone else, and they may think this urban art is
pure junk or, worse yet, unlawful.
Remember #TheDress debate that raged a few years back?
Was the dress blue/black or gold/white?
Everyone had an opinion and it was all about perspective.
Visual contrasts stimulate our intellect and wake us up
to the beautiful world that surrounds us.
That's a big part of what makes Paris personal and special.
It's those differences that invigorate a sense of what's possible.
And very often, it's those same divergent circumstances that turn into
the experiences we keep closest to our heart.
So, if you're lucky enough to visit colorful and unrestrained rue Dénoyez
on the same day you thrill to the classic bearing of the Opera
or the Louvre, you've just cultivated a perfect demonstration
of the beauty and balance on offer in this amazing city.
"What good is the warmth of summer without
the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
John Steinbeck, American author in "Travels with Charlie."
rue Dénoyez in Belleville is a good place to start.
Cobbled and a bit rundown, rue D breathes fresh air in a world
that's become a bit too sanitized and over-regulated.
Belleville is a melting pot of delicious culinary cultures.
Chinese, North African, Vietnamese and dining adventures may
lure you to this neck of the woods but make an effort
to check out its unconventional local art scene.
Rue Dénoyez is an open air gallery of graffiti, a two block space where
transitional creative is both legal and encouraged.
Every wall, flower pot and trash can are decked out with a motley of
chameleon colors and shapes that will stop you dead in your tracks.
As much as I adore Baron Haussmann's symmetrical, prosperous and unified
vision that frames our perfect Paris dreamscape, I cherish the opposite as
well -- messy streets overflowing with disorderly character and offbeat charm.
The last time I visited, I was dismayed to see a large portion of rue D under
demolition -- pushed by demand for subsidized housing for the neighborhood.
It made me sad but since then I've read efforts have been made
to take care of its artists' community.
Part of rue Dénoyez will remain the same, an artistic homage
resolute in the preservation of this alternate point of view.
Long live the Paris arts community, where you'll find a hodgepodge of
personality and talent -- ready and willing to turn us on and shake us up.
The sights -- thankfully -- veer from one extreme to another -- but
isn't that why you've come here?
We get enough of the same old same song back home
so why not embrace all sides of the spectrum?
Graffiti and the Louvre on the same day?
Absolutely! Let it rip!
That's what I call a beautiful plan.
"I love it when a plan comes together."
John Hannibal Smith (George Peppard) of the A-Team
The first French President, who was also titled Emperor of the French Second Empire before it transitioned into the French Second Republic,
did not live in this grand space as the name suggests.
In the mid-1850's, it was built to house the minister of state's
visiting dignitaries and to bridge the gap between
older portions of the Louvre and the Tuileries.
The WOW factor is through the roof -- immense chandeliers and gilded
ceiling frescoes put the exclamation point in memorable Paris landmarks.
Over-the-top opulence greets you from every corner of the circuit -- rich colors, sumptuous fabrics and dreams of exotic dinners held in the state dining room.
Warning, you may weep the next time you sit in front of the tv eating leftover pizza.
This is Paris after all, where artistic endeavor and intellectual stimulation
are essential elements of the city's legacy to the world.
but the emotional payoff is worth the extra effort.
I have to smile every time someone says
"How many times can you see the Eiffel Tower?"
If you're a Paris hound, you understand that burning passion
that brings you back to the French capital year after year.
It's the power of visual contrasts that shape and re-shape
the Paris we have all come to love.
Old against new -- all of it timeless -- just plain works in this world-class capital.
Step out beyond the clichéd postcard view and plunge into
something that makes you breathe a little harder.
Create a new standard and delve into diversity
to see the beauty in mismatches.
"Variety is the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavor."
Williams Cowper, English Poet
Embrace a new point of view.
Welcome both sides of Paris -- both new & old offer richness and insight.
Grab the brass ring and set your mental image by challenging your mental state.
Can you hear it now?
Paris is calling!