Monday Postcard: Paris Street Philosophy

1. On a recent literary tour of Paris, one of my guests asked me about Montaigne. This famed essayist wrote some of my favorite tidbits about everything from friendship to love, but on the base of this 5th arrondissement statue, it’s to Paris that he writes his ode.

“Paris has had my heart from infancy. I am only French because of this great city, above all great and incomparable in variety: the glory of France and and one of the most noble ornaments of the world.”

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2. This sticker was applied to a closed bouquinniste along the Seine; it definitely evokes the culturally French importance of living in the present, the focus on être (to be) in contrast with the avoir (to have) and faire (to do) that rule the decisions of most Americans.

“A human being thinks about the future to such an extent that he forgets the present and therefore lives neither in the present, neither in the future.”

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3. Perhaps no commentary is needed on this play on typical French conjugation exercises, save a translation.

“I consume. You consume. They get rich.”

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4. This blackboard quote attributed to Paulo Coelho is admittedly old (I stumbled upon it nearly a year ago!), but it’s timeless. I love the double-entendre you get in French: mortelle means both deadly and awesome/off-the-hook, though it’s fairly obvious which one Coelho intended.

“If you think that adventure is dangerous, try routine: it’s deadly.”

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5. This may not be street philosophy, per se, but I couldn’t help including this sign on the bathroom of a café near Saint-Paul, in the Marais, which never fails to make me giggle.

“Bathing and fishing forbidden.”

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