Officially I designate February 16th as Paris Day. Last year I arrived to begin a job in Paris, and today it’s the one year anniversary. Milestones.
Honestly, I have to admit that living here was a dream of mine for many years. And in my late twenties it was pushed out by other things, and funny enough that’s when it happened. When I read the email that a major international organization was offering me a contract in Paris, I was in my Vancouver office. I don’t know why I had to run to the bathroom sobbing because a little tiny voice which I stopped listining to a long time was shouting with glee, but the adult in me was terrified because now she had to go from wishing to doing.
Back when I was still dreaming of how my life would be here, it was something quite magical. In my imagination it would unexpected, perfect and beautiful, my heart full to the brim with passion, and my talents blossoming with every new adventure and experience. Somehow living in Paris was linked to making a mark on the world. But it was not an ambition, it was just that Paris was where I thought my life magic would happen.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats
I don’t know when I stopped listening to the magic, it happened gradually through the years of dedicating myself to stability and living a life of an office worker with regular hours and confinment to normalcy. Luckily, there were a few flashes which brought the great changes, when I let myself stay in England for a few months to just see what happens, and where I remembered who I was and met my husband. And now this, a year in Paris has passed, one of the greatest dreams of my life, and I managed to act like nothing different is happening while living here with my husband.
There is a time and place for everything. And for the remainder of what I have left in France, I would like to give it credit for the special time it is. And as last year I wrote that I would like to see life throught my Paris lenses, to let this brief moment in time to open myself up to truly being transformed, I now feel it is again a good time to revisit this need of writing about what I am seeing. It’s exciting.
There is a place in center of Paris which is small enough and out of the way enough to merit the charm of a hidden gem. It’s also relentessly difficult to get in, with epic lineups which could last for hours. This place is a patio bar on the rooftop of Bazare de Ville (BHV), called Le Perchoir Marais. I walked past many times by a queue on rue de Verrerie stretching along the whole length of this historic parisian department store. Tonight we arrived at 19:45 to line up, half hour before the opening times. Determined to be ushered in as the first guests of the evening, we were surprised to see a few couples already there. The love of Parisians to queue is quite remarkable, it happens everywhere!
We were checked through security, and led through the entrance to BHV service elevator, taking us to the 7th floor, then through a long corridor lined with office doors. The bar itself was dimly lit and the music was a cool mix of retro beats. there was a good selection of low wooden benches covered with soft stuffed pillows. But obviously the highlight was a semicircle of Paris cityline, opening up in three directions. From where we were sitting I saw the Eiffel tower glittering, creating a special moment classically Parisian. I always think the Eiffel tower has a certain feminine quality, an elegance in shape and owning its existence not for utilitarions but purely aesthetic purpose. And when the lights begin to dance on it, well it just steals the show!
A little bit about BHV store. It is located two steps from the ile de Cite, in the heart of Paris. It originates from the humble beginnings of a groups of vendors on rue de la Rivoli, similar to how other major department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marche have got their start in mid to late 1800s. In 1856 a man called F.X. Ruel opened his first novelty shop and began accumulating storefronts and expanding the family business of selling items at fixed prices and for a variety of budgets. He famously exhibited the catalogues posters on the front of the building. The current dome and wide windows fits very well with the grand style of Hotel de Ville across the street. And in the last few years there had been green architecture additions, such as the 1400 m2 rooftop garden producing bio products and honey, as well as a green wall on the BHV Homme store.
BHV is known for it’s do it yourself-home improvement department which was added in 1974. The basement floor is full of decor and renovation finds, old and new. I think BHV appeals to the people as it still caters to all budgets, staying true to its origins.
The BHV loyalty card is worth getting, as not only it gives access to discounts on special days, you also accumulate 5% discount bonus in 10 euro increments, i.e spend 200 to get 10 toward your next purchase.