Memorable Paris Moments of 2013

by Meredith Mullins on December 26, 2013

Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower show life lessons and memorable moments in Paris for the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Celebrating at the Eiffel Tower
© Meredith Mullins

Life Lessons from The Year in Review

The end of the year inspires reflections, accolades, and lists.

The year in review. Favorite films. Important deaths and births. Mayoral gaffs. Best books. Rudest awakenings. Most inspiring quotes. Persons of the year.

I like these lists—for their role in examining what moments had impact on our lives and for reminding us just how much happens in a year.

I invariably say “Wow, did that happen THIS year? It seems like a lifetime ago.”

I look back on 2013 (another adventure-filled year in Paris) and offer ten of my most memorable “Oh, I See” moments.

These selections were all life changing—not in a dramatic way but in a way that still felt deep and long lasting, and made me continue to see the world from a new perspective.

The Silence of Snow

Snow at the Louvre, showing life lessons and memorable moments from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

A transformative snowstorm at the Louvre
© Meredith Mullins

Snow is rare in Paris. When the flurries swirl, magic happens. Usually, the dusting of flakes is gone within hours. This January, however, the whiteness endured.

Like the voice of snow itself, the world was soft, muffled, and muted. Places usually familiar were transformed into graphic elements of white and dark, lines, forms, and textures. A new city was born . . . and it was simply beautiful.

Snow at the Eiffel Tower showing life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

A rare view of the Eiffel Tower, simplified by snow
© Meredith Mullins

The Kindness of Strangers

Abdel, the owner of a tiny Ile St Louis grocery, was friendly to me even as a stranger. When I first arrived in Paris, he loaned me taxi money, without knowing who I was, and without hesitation.

Grocery owner waves in aisle, showing life lessons and memorable moments from Paris in the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Abdel, the nicest grocery owner in Paris, always has a smile.
© Meredith Mullins

Now, thousands of bonjours later, he is a friend, a neighbor, and one of the nicest people I know. He works from 6 am until midnight and always has a smile.

With Abdel, the memorable moments happen every day. The lesson I want to learn is how to be more like him.

The Rising of the Seine

The Seine is a constant source of memorable moments. It is the life pulse of Paris. It rises. It falls. It churns. It reflects. It breathes.

In February, with one huge exhale, it spilled over its banks and changed landscape into riverscape.

Flooded Seine bank, showing life lessons and memorable moments from Paris in the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

What was once land was now river.
© Meredith Mullins

While there were, sadly, many floods and tsunamis in the world this year that were far more disastrous, I was still riveted by the changing water. I watched each day as it rose and covered more land-based things. Inch by inch.

River barge with multiple planks to shore, showing life lessons and memorable moments from Paris in the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Each day as the river rose, a gangplank extension appeared.
© Meredith Mullins

When you live on an island in the middle of the Seine (as I do) or on a barge near the river, you pay close attention to those inches.

And you begin to ask yourself what is important to save from your home should disaster come. An interesting question to ask, flood or no flood.

The Year of the Pet

Parisians’ love of cats and dogs is legendary. Evidence of this love exists in many forms—from The Cat Café to fluffy pet heads popping out of Gucci handbags on the metro.

dachshund on a bus, showing life lessons and memorable moments from Paris in the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The good life
© Meredith Mullins

Dogs strut into restaurants with their owners (no health laws here). Cats curl up in sunny window sills of apartment after apartment. Puppies provide warmth and companionship to the homeless.

In a city that could get lonely, dogs and cats offer way to connect— memorable moments that bring us closer together and make us smile, even when life gets tough.

Person walking a cat, life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The true meaning of cat walk
© Meredith Mullins

The Vibrance of Spring

It’s official—whether truth or perception: Every spring in Paris is more vibrant than the one before.

Perhaps it’s because the winters grow colder and grayer each year, making the long-awaited change in weather even more spectacular.

Pink flowers in a park, showing life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The vibrance of spring (without Photoshop)
© Meredith Mullins

The flowers bloom with such force that you can see petals springing open if you pause long enough. The colors are so rich that, even in truthful images, you have to suspect a Photoshop dalliance.

The whole city comes alive to worship the sun, the gardens, and the fine art of café sitting.

And you think to yourself, could next year be even more beautiful?

Yes.

Flowers and trees of Versailles, showing life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Springtime at the Palace of Versailles
© Meredith Mullins

The Americanization of Paris

What is so appealing about fast food, pizza delivery, vending machines with M&Ms, and Law and Order and CSI dubbed into French on prime time TV?

Those of us who came to France for the elegance of the culture and a deeper level of life appreciation are scared.

American culture is sweeping through Paris at an alarming rate.

Waiter with coke, showing life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Norbert from Reminet presenting vintage 2013
© Meredith Mullins

Admittedly, I am personally responsible for the pairing of diet coke (vintage 2013) with French dejeuner. (People frowned at first, but now it’s common practice.)

However, I have to draw the line.

Those of us who have lived through what will become Paris’s inevitable future know there is a price to be paid.

Dominos delivery motorcycles, showing life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Ready to meet the demand
© Meredith Mulins

The Importance of Elegance

Paris events are an art form all their own. Nuit Blanche, Fête de la Musique, Nuit de Musées, and hundreds of festivals and parades keep the city alive with culture.

My choice for “most memorable” event this year was the White Dinner (Diner en Blanc).

White dinner at the Louvre, showing life lessons and memorable moments from Paris in the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Thousands of the elite secret club celebrate the Diner en Blanc.
© Meredith Mullins

I wasn’t invited, mind you. I’m not cool enough (yet) to be part of this clandestine club (even though there are 11,000 elite members).

But once the secret location is announced (minutes before the event is to start), it’s not hard to find thousands of people dressed in white carrying candelabras and champagne.

The key word is elegance—white garden party dress, crystal and silver place settings, white linen tablecloths, and the grace to welcome an uninvited guest (like me) with a glass of champagne.

The Celebration of Liberty

Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, showing life lessons and memorable moments in Paris from the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Bastille Day at the Eiffel Tower
© Meredith Mullins

Any time there are fireworks over the Eiffel Tower, it’s a memorable moment.

Combine that with the French Independence Day (Bastille Day), and the fiery explosions shake the very roots of liberté, egalité, fraternité.

Vive la France!

Exhibit of the Year

Salgado, Kahlo/Rivera, Braque, Karsh, Chagall, Boudin?

Who would have thought I would vote for a tower of street art as the best exhibit of the year?

 

Mirrored green eyes, artistic expression of street art at the Tour 13 (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Mirrored eye at the Tour 13 (work by Mosko from France)
Photo © Meredith Mullins

The Tour 13 was so creative and so provocative of place that I dreamt about it for weeks after seeing it.

Each street artist who was invited to create a part of the nine-story building (whether a kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, or a closet) made the space his or her own, saying whatever they wanted in whatever way they wanted.

Great art leaves an impression long after the immediate experience. If my vivid dreams and strong visual memories of these installations are an indication, this was art of the greatest kind.

Running rabbits, artistic expression of street art at the Tour 13 (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Tour 13 (Work by Pantonio from Portugal)
Photo © Meredith Mullins

The Art of Looking Up


Oh, I see.

Often it’s just the wandering that offers the beauty and adventure. Walks through Paris in the changing light often left me sighing with sheer joy.

For me this year, the most precious moments came from the simple art of looking up.

Sunset reflections in windows, showing life lessons and memorable moments from Paris in the 2013 year in review (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The simple art of walking home and looking up
© Meredith Mullins

Here’s to many memorable moments in 2014. Happy New Year from OIC.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.

 

 
Comments:

43 thoughts on “Memorable Paris Moments of 2013

  1. Meredith, The holiday season buzzed on by, but here I am sitting in the California sun, escaping into the year of a friend through her photographs and prose. Each photograph and entry are gems.
    You are an artist I admire not simply for your gorgeous photographs but your ability to integrate them so magically with your prose. I thoroughly enjoyed my petite adventure in Paris. Thank you, Warmest regards, Jane

    Hope to see you the next time you’re in California!

  2. The city that keeps on giving and the eyes that keep on seeing…in new ways and with new meaning. Nice essay. I look forward to seeing more of your work in Paris. Sorry I did not hook up with you on my pass through as I was a bit consumed with the ending of my friend Jerry Berndt but fortunately for us, there is still time.

    • Dear Jim,
      Your comment is perfect—the city that keeps on giving. It’s so true. And, as you point out, it gives when we’re ready to receive, so we have to open ourselves to it.

      I look forward to your next Paris visit.

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  3. Beautiful sights, beautiful reflections, Meredith; you captured all the right ones for a review of your Parisian year. Hope you’ll make this an annual feast for us!
    Good theme for a class for us?!
    All the very best for 2014, Jeanne

    • Dear Jeanne,

      I think it’s important to reflect on the great moments of a year. It helps one to remember how many riches there are in life.

      Yes, let’s make this an annual feast!

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  4. I enjoyed your work immensely, especially the snow scenes of Paris and the buildings, and your notes. Thank you. An acquaintance of mine with whom you play tennis sent them, and I am grateful to have seen them. Makes me miss Paris!

    • Thank you, Patty. Yes. Paris in the snow is a such a beautiful (albeit rare) treat. For me, it is something I dream of and hope for every winter.

      I’m glad you came to visit OIC.

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  5. Thank you, Meredith, for new samples of your magic eyes picturing my old Paris!
    But oh may this year open your third eye on the toxic rubbish that diet coke is!

  6. Hello Meredith,

    C’est un vrai plaisir de lire vos meilleurs moments à Paris en 2013 quand tant de parisiens pestent contre cette ville, mais vous avez raison : finalement on peut être très heureux et …. étonné à Paris sans jamais se lasser.
    Quant au diet coke je ne suis pas sûr de bien vous comprendre : chaque fois que je passe chez vous je suis impressionné par le nombre de (très bonnes) bouteilles (de vin des meilleurs “vintages”) vides… si vraiment vous buvez du coke alors vos amis sont très gatés !
    Au revoir Meredith, passez de bons moments aussi à Monterey (et puis vous savez, vous pouvez toujours mettre du vin dans une bouteille de coca, discrètement).

    Gilles.

    • Only in France is it possible to be judged by your empty wine bottles. I will try to continue to live up to the reputation of my recycling bin.

      Vive la France!

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  7. Meredith,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images with us! As always, your photos are gorgeous, and your insights thoughtful; I especially appreciated your comments on the Art Of Looking Up — something I have an unfortunate tendency to forget to do.

    Thank you for being part of my 2013. I hope you will be again in 2014 after I return to Paris. Here’s to a year filled with love, laughter and more beautiful photos!

    • Hi Mark,

      The “return” to Paris sounds promising. I know you’ll want more memorable moments, so hurry back.

      Happy New Year!

      Meredith

  8. What a fabulous snapshot of Paris through the eyes of an artist! There is no doubt in my mind that you will be one of the elite invited to the elegant white event! I’m sure your invite is waiting for you back at your flat.
    Happy New Year, may 2014 be the best ever!
    Becky

    • Yes. I MUST check my mail! And start to think of what white ensemble I can pull together.

      Happy New Year to you!

      Meredith

  9. Thank you Meredith! That was a wonderful way to begin my new year’s day. Love and best wishes from wet and windy London,
    Julie

    • Happy New Year, Julie. I shouldn’t be so happy to be in sunny, warm California, when you and others are in the cold wetlands.

      But … it IS nice here in the sun.

      Have a great 2014!

      All best,

      Meredith

  10. Meredith, you truly have the eye of an artist and the voice of a poet. What a lovely retrospective for 2013! Thank you for sharing this wonderful taste of Paris with us. Happy New Year!

    • Thank you, Karen, for your kind comments. I hope your 2013, too, was filled with great memorable moments.

      All the best for 2014!

      Meredith

    • Here’s to a great 2014! I hope life continues to be filled with an incredible creative force. It makes things so much more interesting.

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  11. Bonne Annee Meredith!

    Thank you for starting 2014 with beautiful images and thoughts. I am jealous you got to Tour 13…I tried but alas couldn’t get in…so glad you recorded the excitement.

    My 2014 wish is that we all have an Abdel in our lives…

    • I love your comment. We SHOULD all have an Abdel in our lives! Or be an Abdel to others (much harder!)

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  12. Meredith Tres Chere,
    It’s a wicked 4:45AM on January 1st, 2014 and I am happy to have just received your insights and inspiring views of Paris. The psychology goes with the vision and is a great start for the New Year! Merci et Bonne Annee!

    • I’ll look forward to our 2014 year end memories and hope they continue to be filled with adventure and beauty.

      Bonne Année,

      Meredith

  13. Meredith: I read this wonderful, beautiful review of your 2013 on Chula’s Facebook post. How thrilling that you’re living your life in Paris and making such incredible art (both verbal and visual). Happy, happy new year!–Micky

  14. Dear Meredith you are better than a true parisian because you are not “blasée”. What a nice post you did! I’ll look at the Seine with a different gaze- But…Diet or not diet Coke non non non !!!

    • Merci, Anne. I especially appreciate your comments as a knowledgeable and observant Parisienne. But svp, please let me have my diet coke!

      Bon fin d’année,

      Meredith

  15. Well, Meredith, your roving eye has caught some gems…as is your norm. Witty commentary and apt insights. Love the saturation of the colors, creative angles, and the very fine definition. Any chance of a class on how to accomplish those feats? Excellente nouvelle annee a la grande artiste, Pamela

    • Merci, Pamela. I appreciate your comments and wish you, too, an excellente nouvelle année. Here’s to a creative 2014!

      Meredith

  16. Thank you, Meredith! You have such a wonderful eye, and your thoughtful observations add depth of meaning to your photographs. I wish I could see Paris again, but since that’s not likely, I really appreciate seeing it through your eyes.

    • Thank you Barbara. I’ll hold out hope that you’ll come visit Paris, but in the meantime, I’ll keep posting photographs.

      Happy New Year!!

  17. Pingback: Memorable Paris Moments In 2013. | Chez Henriette

  18. Hi Meredith, what a great post, both thoughtful and quite exotic for those who don’t live here. Like you I often think,’Did that happen this year?’It’s one of those grey, wet days here, so your Spring photos make me yearn for the renaissance of the vegetation, but as you’ve taught me there’s a lot to see in the graphic quality of winter.

    • Meredith,

      It was like reading poetry in pictures written in prose.

      Wishing you a beautiful 2014 in people, pictures, poetry and prose …. and physical excercise such as tennis!

      Kate xxoo

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