“Being a Parisian is not about being born in Paris. It is about being reborn there.”
This quote (attributed to French actor Sacha Guitry) launched the opening of the Paris cultural season at the stunning Palais Garnier a fortnight ago. And it’s absolutely true that there are few places on earth where you feel as inspired, and awakened creatively, as you do in Paris. I for one returned home brimming with ideas for stories and imaginative projects, fuelled by the creative energy of that city.
But it’s also true that the past two years have not been without their challenges for Paris tourism. And this, really, is what spurred me to travel there. Not only because I wanted to see whether I still felt safe and comfortable in one of my favourite cities in the world, following the horrifying attacks of the past two years (and I absolutely did).
But also because, for the first time in the city’s history due to a dip in visitor numbers following the attacks, the government, the city and the Paris region were coming together to highlight the city’s culture, heritage and vibrant creativity in an official way – with the aim of giving us travellers more reason than ever to head to the city of light and of love.
As part of the launch of the Paris cultural season, we spent four days hopping around the city’s hottest cultural destinations. From old favourites like the Louvre, the Musée D’Orsay (don’t miss lunch in their gorgeous gilded restaurant) and Château de Versailles, to the stunning new Philharmonie music venue, the edgy 6B creative centre in the city’s gritty outskirts, and the Chaillot modern dance theatre.
There’s so much more I could tell you about – and I will, in upcoming stories. But for now, I’ll let my short video of Paris’ cultural highlights fill in the blanks. J’espère que vous appréciez.
And for anyone worried about safety when visiting this city, please don’t. Despite the recent Paris attacks, as the Washington Post reported recently, while they did leave some 130 people dead, “roughly three times that number of French citizens died on that same day from cancer.”
Terrorism has, unfortunately, become the new normal in the world today. You’re as likely to get attacked in Paris as you are in Sydney, or New York, or indeed any of the major world cities. In Paris, I saw a huge increase in security around the busy areas, so it could be argued that you’re now safer there than anywhere else on the planet.
So let’s not bow to the profound fear and anxiety that terrorism tries to instill in us. Let’s instead be strong and brave and help this beautiful city, which has so much cultural richness to offer travellers, get back on its feet.