There is always time and space for art in Paris. By default.
It warms my heart and brings me comfort better than a fresh pain-au-chocolat (chocolate croissant) with vache à boire (drinking yogurt) in the morning.
For the longest time I couldn’t quite figure out what makes me feel incredible in Paris. But a remark but Katya (another exchange student from UVA + my roommate here and friend) made it obvious. In metro on our way back to HEC after a day in Paris she pointed out:
“What I love about Parisian metro, is that I know all about current cultural events that happen in the city after riding it”
Exactly! The walls are filled with posters announcing exhibitions and concerts: “Vermeer” in Louvre, “Venise en fête” in Musée Cognacq-Jay, “Paysage mystiques” in Musée d’Orsay, “Giselle” in Opéra National… And these are just the things I remember off the top of my head. Commercial ads, on the contrary, are more rare. I am actually having a hard time right now trying to come up with even one.
The beautiful architecture and historical sights of course only add to the atmosphere of all-embracing art. All the buildings around the center seem to have been carefully sculpted to look aesthetically pleasing and compliment each other. Parks with amazing flowerbeds and ponds in the middle are as neat and scenic. Even the place where I go to dance salsa is not just some venue. It looks like a grandiose theater from a movie with upholstered armchairs and an enormous staircase with wooden carved handrail.
My art-loving heart can’t stop fluttering surrounded by all this brilliance. What makes it even better is that people here actually take time to enjoy and appreciate the culture. It can be challenging to tell where tourists end and locals begin, so my observations might be not exactly accurate. Still, I have an impression that many Parisians do frequent museums and concerts. This Saturday, when Katya and me went to Paris, we spent about an hour in a line for Musée d’Orsay, and there were many French-looking French-speaking people in the line.
Moreover, at HEC there is actually Arts Council, seemingly as big and powerful as local Student Council. A couple weeks ago they sent us an email with a huge list of shows in Paris announcing a date of shotgun to buy tickets. I didn’t participate because the shows are in French and I wouldn’t understand anything. However, I am assuming that if they tell you in advance the start date of ticket sales, the tickets go away quickly.
I wish that was true at UVA as well. I wish art was as present and loved. I wish culture was a part of UVA culture. Let’s make it happen!