We’ve been incredibly lucky in St Barths, as the island has had no Covid-19 cases for two months, and only six official cases in total, so we were very protected from the beginning. And while it’s beautiful, peaceful and has so much in terms of nature and sea, life is sweet.
But I have to admit that it’s the hum and vibrancy of a big city that I miss. I lived in Paris for decades, and still have a place there even though my work with Vilebrequin is mainly based in St Barths, and it’s that hit of adrenaline you get from the energy of a city like Paris that truly has made me appreciate it all the more.
I don’t know what I’m going to find when I return but I imagine, like everywhere, that life will be different. What I hope for is that energy, crowds, people, bars, anonymity, cars, bustle... even the traffic! In a sense it’s jumping into danger and risks, but that’s what I’m missing. I want to dive into the world.
I think what we’ve learned from all this is that we’re social creatures, we are designed to be around people, something the virus has stolen from us. In terms of the little rituals I can’t wait to revisit, I miss my local Italian restaurant - it has the best pasta in Paris. It’s very simple, very small, six tables, and at the end of the working day, I don’t even really think about it, I just go there automatically, I sit at my table, I order my glass of wine and I never know what I’m going to eat because the chef just prepares what he has with fresh ingredients that day. You get what you’re given and it’s blissful.
One of the special things about Paris is the bars with their pavement tables lined up uniformly in the street, it’s an iconic part of the city. You feel like you become part of the tapestry of Paris and its history to sit there, watch the world go by, as her great writers, artists and poets have done for centuries.
One of my favourite places is the Jardin du Palais Royal. It’s a beautiful square right in the centre of the city that despite all the traffic and bustle is totally closed off and serene; it has such poetry. You find yourself in this historic, preserved haven, a city garden in the heart of everything where you can feel the city around you on all sides, but you’re in this oasis. It’s blissful. I’m not one for large, expansive spaces, I don’t tend to go to the Tuileries Gardens; small, intimate spaces mean more to me.
One of the positives that I think we are taking from this experience is that being green and responsible is relatively easy. For a while now in Paris there has been more space for bicycles, there’s consideration for parks, respect for nature, less cars, you can travel by your own steam on a scooter or bike. We’re hopefully going to see a respect and responsibility for that in the coming years as we learn from this. It’s just a more peaceful way to live.
I think this experience has reminded us all just how fragile life is, and how swiftly the world can change. Luckily there’s no place that thrives with life and makes you squeeze every last drop from it more than the City of Light.
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