The French Influence

A few days ago, I happened upon my program’s guidebook to studying abroad in Paris, which had a photograph of the Eiffel Tower on the cover. The photograph was taken from the less standard angle in which the photographer takes a photo from underneath the tower. The result, is similar to what you see below- a photo of two of the Eiffel Tower’s legs and the underbelly of the tower- with all of the beautiful golden lace-like-design contrasting from the  solid colored-blue sky.

photo from

This image with its unconventional and close up view of the great monument ignited a memory. At first vague but then, as I remembered where and when I this memory came from, I realized I had been very acquainted with a similar view of the Eiffel Tower. I had been right underneath the Eiffel Tour, cornered in the hollow of its legs.  That was once upon a time in a video game.

I must have been in the third grade, as I can imagine myself in Ms. X’s class talking about it will a classmate and knowing it was around the year when playstation2 was in its glory days. What I knew about Paris at that point, I’m guessing, had all been acquired through movies. I must justify this as I don’t want my 8 year old self sounding uncultured. I don’t think we were taught European history by third grade nor was I researching images and information about Paris on AOL. Thus, I think I can say with some confidence that I didn’t really have a clear image of what Paris was like. Not the way you can so easily form an image of a far and distant place thanks to Google Earth, blogs, the travel channel, etc.

The game I’m referring to is called “Twisted Metal”. I won’t get into details but it was a car game with the objective of destroying the other player’s car (I really mean killing the driver inside. It was pretty violent.) I assume that to make it interesting you would have the option of playing in different cities- like Moscow, Tokyo, some boring place in America and Paris. I actually preferred to kill my opponent in Paris- I loved trying to find them in the narrow streets, looking at the little shops I drove by, or driving down les grands boulevards. You could even visit the Eiffel Tour, be transported to its upper levels, blow it up (!), watch a mime perform  on the streets and even run him over.

I do not own these images

I had long forgotten about this game by 5th grade and hardly have given it a thought since then. But that image on the front cover of my guidebook triggered this memory that is now so vivid in my mind’s eye. I wonder if my entire life has been driven  towards getting me to Paris. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I was never one that dreamt of living in Paris (mostly because I never thought it was possible) until a little more than a year ago. I now wonder that my going to Paris is the result of outside [French] influences that have accumulated within me over the years:

a vision of Paris in a video game, followed by a viewing of Mary Kate & Ashley’s A Passport To Paris, realizing the chic’ness of Parisians through those posh-woman-at-a-cafe graphic (you know the drawing of a disproportionately thin French (maybe?) woman in a cute outfit walking her small dog or sitting at a cafe), the allure of European transportation through “Barbie with Vespa”, being taught in high school by a teacher obsessed with the French language and Paris (and Jackie Kennedy), reading a 1000 page book on the history of France, having a friend who spoke French, watching Amelie for the first time and loving it, thinking of going to fashion school where French classes were mandatory, being accepted and attending a school with a renown Paris study abroad program…

And each time that I kept these experiences in my “French repertoire”, instead of rejecting them, I was getting closer and closer to sealing my fate as une fausse-Parisienne (and conversely, farther and farther away from an alternative, eschewed path).

Which makes me wonder, what will happen once I get back from Paris?

89 days!




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