Text: Guillermo Martinez de Velasco
Paris can be exhilarating, beautiful, surprising, interesting, warm, foul, and many other things. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever come across two people who have identical views on the city. Underneath layer upon layer of attributable characteristics the city is almost always overlooked in one aspect. Paris can be boring.
Who proclaimed we all want to feel like we live in some sort of modernist fantasy? What if I simply don’t posses any emotion in my being to adequately respond to the morning smell of a boulangerie if I choose to respond at all? What with everyone around having the time of their lives, it’s hard for the rest of us to have completely sub-standard lives when it comes to our excitement quota.
How can one be less obvious in Paris? Need I say it, how can one not amuse oneself in this city?
The most obvious answer lies at the westernmost edge of Line 1. Archeologists are still unsure as to how or why across the Seine, a peculiar civilisation arose. They speculate that the site now referred to as “La Défense” must have been built by a people that, architectural evidence has now revealed, had two predominant characteristics: 1) Consuming American media as a cult-like obsession 2) Never coming to contact with cultures beyond Nanterre and the Bois de Boulogne.
The people of La Défense had religious practices which some experts believe, led them to try to recreate a standard american city, (be it Cleveland or Minneapolis). If ever you decide to visit this space, you will find attractions such as: a Starbucks, the absence of a functional public space, a shopping mall, a business school and a giant grey arch that the Défensians thought would create a portal to Newark, New Jersey. In their religion, one would spend the afterlife with Michael Douglas, Jackie Chan and Kevin Bacon.
La Défense is kind of far, so it is understandable that our daily demands of ‘boring’ cannot be realistically fulfilled here, save this spot for the weekends, especially on Sundays after 6pm. For our quotidien dose, we have other resources.
It doesn’t really matter what you do. Go to the bank, try to get a refund for something, visit the Mairie and ask what things you can apply for? This activity guarantees that for every hour you spend at the place of bureaucracy, you will spend another one commuting back and forth from your apartment in the never ending fun that is finding, photocopying, dating and stamping additional documents.
What’s exciting here is that several functions of any given operation can only be done at certain times of the day. i.e. You can only cash cheques at the branch you opened your account in, and only on tuesdays between 11h-14h. Oh, and only if the cheque is for less than 500 euros, if not you need to make an appointment. Appointments are made on Wednesdays after 15h but before 16h30.
Go hang around any large RER station, be it Gare Du Nord, Nation or Châtelet-Les Halles. There’s loads of activities! Wait for the train, fear for your life, wait for the train, smell things, and oh, wait for the train. This is a great spot to feel like the world has been wiped out by a nuclear holocaust and the only place to survive is the underground, postapocalytic, hover-board-laden world of mutant underground Haussmann-St-Lazare.
Another option is to take the T3, a tramway that takes you from the lovely and industrial Pont du Garigliano, to the lovely and industrial Porte d’Ivry, you’ll pass by such interesting places as Balard, Porte de Vanves and Porte d’Italie.
4- Watch French Television!
Anything really. Try putting a hat on the TV set to make it extra interesting.
5-Follow the lives of French celebrities closely.
It’s about as much fun as asking for extra salt for your mashed potatoes.
6- Statue of Liberty!
Make the trek to the small statue of liberty at the Île Aux Cygnes near the Pont Grenelle. Isn’t this fun?
Montparnasse Tower has long been Paris’ best kept tourist secret. You can spend money on going to a room that looks like an airport lounge to get a better view of Paris. Or, alternatively, got to Galleries Lafayette, scour the tunnels of the Montparnasse-Bienvenüe station or even go out at one of Europe’s largest Erasmus-ganza clubs, “Mixclub”. Which ever mayor of Paris gave permission to have this tower built deserves a long overdue Nobel prize of some sort.
8- The 16ème
What goes on here? No one really knows
I recommend you get off at Duroc. You will not find a soul to talk to.
Try to do anything on a Sunday after 18h. Go ahead. Try it!
Only visit the segment of Parisian museums that is dedicated to the rich family that once owned the building which now houses them.
Fun is as overrated as Gwyneth Paltow’s actual level of talent. Don’t let this cosmopolitan metropolis coerce you into having any. After all, it’s your choice! If you’d rather not, then tell everyone to stop offering you this endless parade of cultural activities. I mean, seriously, why can’t I just read the dictionary as if it were a novel, at Bercy?