Paris Then and Now
By Louise Fahy
15 Apr 2012
I have lived in Paris for several years now, and it remains as intriguing as when I first arrived.
Formerly known as Lutetia (Lutece), Paris was conquered by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, and existed as a regional center under the Romans and in the early Middle Ages. It still remains a centre, not only as the political and economic capital of the country, but also for the millions of tourists who visit annually, as well as the millions people who flock here from across Europe to try to make a living.
For me, Paris remains a city of quiet charm where on any given day, you can always expect to experience the unexpected. For example, on a hot and humid summer night in 2009, I decided to take a walk around the city, as it was too hot to stay in my apartment. I started in one of the many covered passageways that dot the second arrondissement of Paris might help. At that time I lived not too far away in the Marais, so it was a quick walk.
These passageways have lots of little shops, tea-houses and bookstores that are a great relief from unpleasant weather of any sort, be it the heat and humidity or the rain. One in particular, Passage Vivienne, has a charming bookshop pictured below.
From there I made my way to the Seine, as I thought perhaps there might be further relief from the heat to be found near the river. It was also August, when the mayor sets up Paris Plages, the urban beach established each year along the banks of the river that divides the city.
I walked past Hotel de Ville and saw a man playing his cello on the bridge just above the river. I took a quick detour to get his picture before moving along to the beach. There, as I descended the steps, I saw small children at sunset playing in the mist showers (including the little girl pictured in the main photo). It has been one of my most popular pictures ever since - never underestimate the power of being in the moment! It's also a good illustration of why it's a good idea to always have a camera on-hand.
I then continued on to a fairground not too far away at the Jardin des Tuileries. On the way, I saw a man in the Louvre museum working away under his the light of his desk-lamp, possibly planning the next special exhibition in the museum. There, parents and grandparents awaited their children on the ferris wheels and carousels (also pictured below). I also saw a lone little girl holding onto the bags of her mother and sister as she awaited them, looking longingly at the carousel before her (also pictured below).
So as you can see, Paris never fails to charm no matter what the circumstances, and at any given moment you can feel like you've stepped back in time!