Friday, April 11, 2008

Paris: City of Light--Friday Feature

Today’s Friday Feature is Paris, the City of Light. I’m heading there with my friend, Toulouse (napping on my shoulder in the photo below). He isn’t too excited because he’s, well, French. But it’s my first visit to this splendid city and I have to admit to you that I am randy round the bend ecstatic. Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with over 30 million foreign visitors per year. And for good reason.

Paris has been a beacon of culture and art for centuries, long considered a world capital of art, fashion, food, literature and ideas. Paris is a symbol of all the fine things human civilization can offer. Says Rick Steves, “Come prepared to celebrate, rather than judge, the cultural differences, and you’ll capture the romance and joie de vivre that Paris exudes.” He adds, “Paris offers sweeping boulevards, chatty crepe stands, chic boutiques, and world-class art galleries. Sip decaf with deconstructionists at a sidewalk café, then step into an Impressionist painting in a tree-lined park. Climb Notre-Dame and rub shoulders with gargoyles. Cruise the Seine, zip up the Eiffel Tower, and saunter down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.”
Paris is known as the "The City of Light" (La Ville-lumière), from its fame as a centre of education and ideas and its early adoption of street lighting. "Modern" Paris is the result of a vast mid-19th century urban remodelling. For centuries the city had been a labyrinth of narrow streets and half-timber houses, but beginning in 1852, the Baron Haussmann's vast urbanisation levelled entire quarters to make way for wide avenues lined with neo-classical stone buildings of bourgeoise standing; most of this 'new' Paris is the Paris we see today.

I’m actually going to Paris to research my latest book, a historical fantasy, about a young girl from medieval Prussia who learns that she can alter history (which is partly why she ends up in slightly future alternate Paris). The day is June 14th, 1411. It’s Vivianne’s 14th birthday and she’s been promised to this nasty foreign dude 30 years older than her and who she’s never met; the day is also the eve of one of medieval time’s greatest battles, “The Battle of Grunwald”. (This battle between the arrogant Teutonic warrior monks and the peasant Lithuanian and Polish armies should have been an easy victory for the Teutonic knights, who were far superior in weaponry, tactics and ambition than the peasant rag-tag armies. It wasn’t; they were all but wiped out. But, what if they hadn’t been?…)

It’s still the eve of the battle and, after being hunted as a witch for being “different”, young Vivianne flees through a time-space tear into an alternate future Paris…one in which—you guessed it—the Nazis currently rule (because they had the chance to evolve sooner, thanks to the survival of the Teutonic Order in a world where intervention—involving Vivianne—allowed them to prevail and see-in an early Germanic Nazi regime).

So, here I am… heading to Paris to see what Vivianne sees. Oh, and to drink and eat too! Ah, the wine… the cheese… the bread… You know what the French say: “Du pain, du vin, du Boursin…”
I’m not sure if we’ll have time to post. So I will leave you with a short story. But either Toulouse or I may come on with an update of our rigorous research. Otherwise, see you in two weeks! Come back tomorrow to read my short story.

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Have a simply fab time, my friend! It'll be a great combination of work and enjoyment.

I'll wave as your aircraft flies over.

sfgirl said...

HAR! Thanks, Jean-luc! I'll be sure to wave back! LOL! The first thing I'm going to do is walk to the Seine then find a cafe and have a pastisse... mmmmm ....

Janus Horus said...

I will not comment on Paris(my birth place But Toulouse:
1/You must dicover their "Cassoulet
3/Toulouse hold every years "the internationnal Conference on Self-similarities
3/Yesterday,I went to explore Appel's SAFARI for the first time and red the news of the day About Seramis Mummie new insight generated by
About the Scientist

M.Sc Benjamin Moreno is co-president and co-founder of I.M.A SOLUTIONS (Anatomical and Anthropological 3D Modeling), a Toulouse, France organization that uses leading-edge technology to create medical imaging solutions and advance Egyptological research. He and the rest of the I.M.A SOLUTIONS team have developed imaging and rapid prototyping techniques for maxillofacial prostheses. They also advance archaeological research and understanding by creating interactive 3D museum displays from CT scans of mummies.
4/And do'nt forget the 'Cathares'.

sfgirl said...

Cool, Janus! And great for Toulouse!