Postcards from Paris: { Paris à la Russe }

My fascination towards the lost regal Russian culture began during a summer in Savannah. There was a group of Russian girls who were participating in an exchange program, and all lived in a grand house off E. Broad street. I made regular visits to this house where no English was spoken, and the only thing that translated across the language barrier was a spout of girly giggles. They were warm and welcoming in their foreign way, and would greet me with kisses on the mouth. The fascination continued after a dose of Tolstoy, and even in Paris there are certain Russian endroits that capture the intrigue of the culture even amongst the most typical of Parisian settings.

Once in a certain setting for long enough it turns into routine, and often the little details of a place become harder to find, and more difficult to make special. That setting becomes slightly stale. It’s after turning perspectives to another residing culture that I discover a refreshing outlook to this city; looking through the eyes of a different culture and seeing the way that Paris attracts them.

I took the afternoon to a stroll towards rue Pierre le grand (Peter the Great), where appropriately residing is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a beautiful Russian Orthodox church that glimmers between the Haussmann architecture. It was the venue where Pablo Picasso married the Russian ballet dancer, Olga Khokhlova. The interior is gilded with golden portraits of saints that sparkle in front of hundreds of lit candles each Sunday service. The atmosphere is specific and distinct to Russian stereotypes which make it all the more intriguing.

As I was clicking away trying to capture the details I eventually noticed a woman noticing me as she set up lunch tables. I commented on the beautiful cathedral, and detecting an accent she asked where I was from. She concluded that English was a good foundation language, and that I was off in a good direction learning French. Eventually, she said that I would be ready to learn Russian, and knowing both French and Russian, “the two most beautiful languages” I’d then be able to seduce the world, relying on English for practical matters. It seemed like sound advice at that moment, and I reacted eagerly by asking for a photo, but was denied. She maintained that Russian mystery, dark and intriguing, with elements of gold.


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