In Paris, horizons and perspectives were all defined by man. Infinity stops right at the other end of the street. Looking up uncovers a narrow stripe of grey. Looking down as well. For Parisians, looking inside is therefore the only possibility to fathom infinity.

One of the greatest pleasures la province treats the Parisian to is an immediate sense of the grandiosity of Nature. Repressed in his city high, he lives most days with comfort and ease in nothing but concrete. Leaving the city opens new doors. It offers a new form of enchantment. The enchantment of awe. Very few things leave the Parisian belittled, somewhere between admiration and fear.

Stars do.

There are not many things Parisians like as much as discovering a night sky sprinkled with stars. Coming out of a house after a nice dinner, coming out of a car after a long drive, the Parisian is caught off-guard by the disdainful beauty of the night. He finds himself charmed and thrilled by this view that exceeds him. Finally something does.

Stars don’t like competition. They prefer not to show in the city of lights. Seeing them is therefore a rare instance for Parisians. The emotion the Parisian feels under the stars is similar to the one he feels faced with a raging ocean of a quiet mountain range. An emotion away from home, a break from the petty. An invitation to somewhere intimate.

Stars comfort the Parisian in the idea that there is more to life than the mediocrity and ugliness he finds himself surrounded with. He feels close to that superior unknown.

So he shall smile.

Useful tip: Know that “milky way” to a French person shall forever be the name of a chocolate bar
Sound like a Parisian: “Oh… t’as vu les étoiles?!”

31 replies
  1. Peter
    Peter says:

    Ah, Olivier. This is almost poetry! Brings to mind a moment stood on the steps of the Sacré Coeur survey the city of light with the twinklers above.

  2. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    PreppyPlayer… Not sure what that is but for someone brilliant, there tends to be admiration and envy. For celebrities, more of a mix of envy and scorn!
    Peter… Thank you – I guess Paris does that too to people!!
    Craikite… Thanks Craig! (I guess?!)

  3. ron pruett
    ron pruett says:

    I very much enjoy your analyses of the Parisian psyche, their view of themselves vis a vis other Parisians, other French, and those”others” from other cultures(an oxymoron?). Rest assured there are others elsewhere that share some of the characteristics you describe, for example here in Boston, the “hub of the universe”!

  4. Stefanie
    Stefanie says:

    I doubt that is a Parisian thing, I think it transcribes through humanity. Weather you live in the countryside or the city, that sight never gets old.

  5. kinha
    kinha says:

    I think you have a nice blog, beatiful photos and smart posts.Would you follow me, because I don’t want to lost your blog.I’m wating your visit.

  6. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Ron… Hey!! Nice to see you here!! “The Hub of the Universe”?! … Good Lord, that’s priceless!!
    Barbra… :-) Nope – far from this actually. Thank you very much for your kind comment – Oh my God it’s so nice!
    Stefanie… Totally agree. Thank God Parisians are not the only one liking stars! I do think city people are stars-deprived though.
    Kinha… Muit’obrigado!

  7. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Ouh… just realized there were three references to God in my past comment! I need to go for a run!

  8. Ingo
    Ingo says:

    mon dieu. Oliver is obviously a ‘jesus freak’, and the stellar comment was funny as stellar means “outstanding” and “of or relating to the stars” (not sure if that was lost in translation). I myself see comedy in this post. I envision a Parisian as a victim to this star-beauty.

  9. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Ingo… Je suis démasqué! Thx for the clarification. As per the comedy, I think you have this Woody Allen twirl Ingo!!

  10. Cheryl de los Reyes Cruz
    Cheryl de los Reyes Cruz says:

    Mediocrity and ugliness…in Paris!!! Thousand year old buildings, treasured works of art, the food, the pastries. A concentrated collection of some of the best things humanity has come up with, this is Paris. At least to those who don’t live there. What a complicated creature the Parisian is.

  11. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Ingo… :-) Merci.
    Cheryl… Sometimes, mediocrity and ugliness don’t have to do with the buildings around you…

  12. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Ah star gazing. An empty field over night. Blankets and wine and cheese. If only! A lovely post yet again.

  13. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Cheryl… Just like Cali after all… sounds ideallic but… might not be every single day!
    Renee… So I didn’t know what the word ‘snarky’ meant. So I looked it up. And found words like ‘annoying’, ‘grumpy’, ‘critical’ to define it. Is the French side of my personality catching up on me? Oh Lord!!
    Amanda… Merci. Is it that hard to do?

  14. Holdem Guide
    Holdem Guide says:

    Stars are really extraordinary. When I look at stars and as you said this is not a common occurrence for the modern man, I feel like I am sharing the past of my ancestors.
    Because the ancient man of antiquity considered a juste titre that stars where Gods. Unfathomable, hence deities. And what they were looking at was very similar to what we can look at today in the sky.

  15. Jo Philips
    Jo Philips says:

    I like this article. Very poetic. Now, we don’t need to look at the sky to see the stars. You just have to look at your wrist to see the de Grisogono, the star for all season. And then open your palm to see the delicious Milky Way.

  16. Polly-Vous Francais
    Polly-Vous Francais says:

    Thank you for this, Olivier!

    My best-ever American-in-Paris moment was walking home from a party on a crisp December evening, with a handsome Frenchman AND the Eiffel Tower glittering in the background AND the stars twinkling overhead. Alas, a convergence of rare, swoon-worthy phenomena never again repeated. So far…

  17. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    AP… You can check out the post ‘Not exercizing’!
    Jo… Thx – nice plug!
    Polly… You are most welcome. Parisian nights make the most outrageous cliches delightful. Gotta love it!

  18. meg13
    meg13 says:

    I just read this post and I have to say it made me a little sad. I’m moving to Paris in August and hadn’t really thought about not being able to see the stars (I don’t live in a big city so I can see them whenever it’s not cloudy), but now that you’ve told me I won’t be able to see them, I want to! I just found your blog, but it’s great. I had to really try hard not to read the past posts at work today…can’t wait to read more!

  19. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Meg13… Welcome to Paris!! And no worries, a quick drive outside the city will make you love stars even more.
    Florian… Merci merci. Thank you for your comment. Glad you like it!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Comments are closed.