Paris is a magically beautiful city, and after the last couple of weeks, I've begun to really get it.
It's not just that most of the buildings are a few hundred years old, but about the beautiful details throughout the city, and the work done to preserve the old.
Both with the public buildings and residential properties, you find amazing stuff. It's almost like some of the buildings have an applique of some sort of durable plaster design.
Even the mundane, like the lamp posts along the Champs Elysee, are remarkable in the design details.
The French have a culture of having beautiful things and really taking care of them. It's like the French women who look amazing in their old classic (and basic) clothing and accessories that they make last forever. The same care is given to preserving and enjoying the lovely old buildings.
Here in Washington, we went through a period of tearing down lovely historical buildings to put up really hideous office buildings, devoid of any charm or character whatsoever. There has been far less of that in Paris, where historic preservation is just a way of life.
Yes, Paris has changed over the decades since I've been there. My mother wanted to revisit the Champs Elysee to see the lovely shops, which (while the buildings themselves had not been significantly altered) was line with motorcycle dealerships. Neighborhoods that were once shabby are now quite chic.
But the essence of the city is the same as when I left it way back in the 70's. And for that I was thankful!