Paris is a city that embraces symmetry, orderliness, style, and the straight line. Its boulevards radiate out from the Champs Elysee like the spokes of a wheel. Its bridges curve gracefully over the Seine in measured intervals. Its beautiful, stately buildings, many painted in light shades of gray, beige, or white, gleam in the sun. The public gardens are immaculate and tended with care. They are laid out in grids, with orderly rectangles of grass and flowers interspersed with wide pebbled paths.
Every morning during our stay in Paris, I’d turn on the kettle for tea and look out the windows of our charming attic apartment in Le Marais. (I made the reservation on a romantic whim–remembering the books I’d read about Paris when I was young.) The view was quintessentially Parisian: classic Renaissance-style apartment buildings with interior courtyards, gabled roofs, and a series of wide double windows framed with shutters or sheer curtains. Terraces–no matter how small–are often decorated with elaborate wrought-iron railings.
In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.― Ludwig Bemelmans,
On our visits to historic sites, even the tassels on the window draperies were elegant and orderly.
Broken lines do not know what they want. With their caprices they cut time up, abuse routes, slash the joyous flowers and split the peaceful fruits with their corners.~Rene Crevel
Style is a continuum. Style never changes. It’s a straight line. It’s a refinement of the same vocabulary. Style takes you from day to evening, season to season.~Ralph Rucci
In this view of the ferris wheel and a lamp-post in Le Jardin du Luxembourg, lines predominate.
What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.~Tennessee Williams
And yet, I think there is an inherent contradiction in the French. Despite their love of symmetry and order, they encourage and honor their artists and original thinkers who break with tradition, striking out in new directions in art, literature, politics, philosophy, dance, and music and creating some magnificent disruption and chaos in the world–for the better.
Does you embrace order? To what degree do you tolerate disorder? I like a mixture of both–orderly with a little chaos–given my left-brain/right-brain orientation!
Have an inspiring week–no matter where you are in the world!