Move Over, Emily. It’s Nikki in Paris, Now!

Our Guide Architect of the Month, Nikki Wang takes us to Paris! A city that she calls home and has a deep love for.

What else can we say about Paris? There’s a lot that’s been said already. Each time I need to describe Paris, this question passes by in my mind, but it soon goes away. Because, all of us still have something to say about Paris, our own words, our own stories.

Paris is our own private experience, no matter how many poets, artists, and writers have written about Paris, about their love or frustration, our own Paris is always different and ever-evolving.  

My First Paris Moment

When I stood in the Beijing airport, waiting to board my Air France flight in 2009, I didn’t know I would probably spend the rest of my life at the destination of that day: Paris.

As a girl growing up in an international school between Beijing and Sydney, I was not unfamiliar with Western culture, but I knew I was waiting for that click. I have chosen Paris on purpose. As an MBA student, I could have gone to the US, which sounded logical, but I knew I wanted to come to Europe. It was as if I could hear it calling my name.

It wasn’t until I arrived that I realized all the impression and the fantasy I had about Paris was just pale. Beyond everything, Paris is a huge adventure, all you need to do is to set yourself free and let life lead you to the next stop. Never be afraid. 

It’s a Small World

I couldn’t have known that the boy I talked to during a very random concert in the Butte Chaumont park turned out to be a famous PR and fashion editor, he brought me to all hip parties and introduced me to the entire Parisian nightlife scene; I couldn’t have known that the man I met next to my table in a small bistro would become my landlord/roommate several months after who lived in a vast Haussmanian apartment right in front of the Centre Pompidou with splendid decoration from Chanel and Knoll.

I definitely couldn’t have known years after I would become the Paris correspondent for different media about art and design covering Paris fashion week and FIAC; I couldn’t have known how many white nights I would spend dancing on tables or crushing house parties without knowing who the owner was! I couldn’t have known that the first long term job I got in Paris would allow me to travel 2 weeks per month for the next 7 years worldwide; I couldn’t have known that one day I would quit a comfortable finance job to create a travel project for Paris – my love song to my adopted hometown.  

There’s No Place Like Paris

More than a mere spot on the map, it’s a place that exists in the hearts and minds of all who have been touched in some way by its magical allure.  Paris does have this magical effect on people. Of wooing them, of charming and romanticizing them. I wouldn’t say it happens to everyone, but it has to many.

For me, I felt like another face of me has been brought out, more fun and more original. I was willing to try anything at least once. Something about the Parisian air helped me feel free, brave, and wild. It almost felt like the rules that I was used to back home didn’t apply here. Here, those rules could be bent, so I dared to bend them. Everything is possible, never be afraid. 

Years went by, now I have much less capacity to stay up late, but obviously a higher capacity for a glass of good wine, a piece of good cheese or the best exhibition. I feel like I know so much and so little about Paris, the discovery just seems endless.

I know that today Paris is no longer the capital of the world when Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Hemmingway, Picasso, James Joyce, Henry Miller, Dali, everyone and anyone came here to create, shine and revolutionize… But the memories remain and these legends shaped Paris, they set it apart from many other parts of the world. A place fused by incomparable glory, nostalgia, resilience, paradox and never-ceasing creativity. 

Always Coming Back

I still travel a lot, but each time I came back to Paris, staring at the glimmering Seine with her elegant bridges, or the grey zinc roofs or the quaint cafes at random street corners, crossing by the fast -paced stylish crowds or the elderly women with flawless makeup and dresses, I know why I call Paris home.

French people never worship perfection because it is boring. Indeed, Paris is also like a maddening, moody lover who inspires emotional highs and lows. One minute it fills you with a rush of joy, the next you are full of fury itching to smack the mouth of some sneering waiters or smug civil servant. And yet, it is charged with so much mystery, excitement, longing and that French specialty – seduction – that we can’t resist asking for more. 

So, if you yourself have felt this way about Paris and want to come back, you know you’re in for a ride. If you’d like to plan your Paris visit, check out my Wild Bum guide for a local’s tips on seeing the city!

Nikki Wang

Nikki Wang