Paris is a place of sights, sounds and beauty.
The smell of the holidays is all tied to memories. Some are from our childhood, our romantic past and perhaps mostly the memories of visiting home, again.
What happens to you when you remember a smell?
There is a scientific reason for this kind of sense memory, but I prefer to think about the experience, itself . A particular fragrance that I used in Paris a few years ago, instantly brings back the time of an intense romance when I spray it on now (J’adore by DIOR) in all its forms. It is quite simply, my romance in a bottle. The power of scent is something we all share, though each of our memories may differ. There are good ones, and bad ones; scents we react to both as children, as adults, and the lost years in between. Chanel No. 5 is associated with my mother, comforting and familiar. Eau de Sauvage, from Dior, is the scent of my father (who was a true fragrance curator) he wore on a daily basis. When he returned from his travels it meant an elegant box was opened and a new perfume was discovered. He loved Hermes and Givency fragrances, too. My mother received her box of Guerlain “Shalimar” or “L’heure Bleu” her favorites as they brought to her many memories. Our family was always sharing perfume as a way to tell a story. A way to share a memory.
Silence, is also what I like about being in Paris. A museum is one place where you can encounter the ‘noise’ of silence in Paris. A museum can give you a chance to contemplate if lit is attached to a garden, a private home, or courtyard. So many of them are tucked away from the crowd. When you realize that over 250 museums are fully operating at any one given time in Paris, its overwhelming. The sounds of these spaces are very unique. You can hear yourself think and exercise your personal wonderment. I find this is important when life can be made up of the everyday, the mundane or the usual. A dash of art can sometimes be the answer.
Sometimes when we walk into a memory, it is combined with a sound.
Someone asked me once, what I miss about Paris when I am not there; it is certainly the smells of my favorite cafes or bakery; honk of the taxis; rush of the air from the subway; music of the gypsy guitar players . French (and the other language you hear on the streets) make up the sounds of the city as everyone greets you. Music is a shared experience in Paris, spilling out onto the streets connecting the Paris community. So, when the song “Imagine” was played by a lone piano player on the streets after the terrible tragedy this past month, it was was shared by all of us around the world. It was a melody, an idea, a shared vision of what the world could be. A message of hope for everyone.
It will not be silenced.