What happened to the ritual of sending a postcard when traveling? Has a tweet, Facebook posting, or Instagram photo replaced the 3"x 4" card with a local attraction on one side and on the other, space for a greeting, address and stamp? Through the years, my collection has contained messages from my 5th grade teacher who spent time in Japan, my then high school boyfriend (future husband) who was traveling through Europe with his family one summer, and cards I sent my Mom that I found when she passed away a year ago. Postcards would often arrive weeks after the sender's return but were always a welcome reminder of the sights and experiences of the trip.
In Paris, the souvenir stands still offer a vast selection of postcards with the smiling face of Mona Lisa, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph and the numerous iconic images that draws visitors from around the world. The flip side however, is now blank, with plenty of room to write without crossing the address line.
From tears to determination, Paris, post 2015 terror attacks, has not changed much from this traveler’s perspective. The Eiffel Tower still sparkles on the hour, the Bateaux cruises make their way along the Seine, The French Open is in full swing and restaurants and cafes attract locals and tourists for coffee or glass of Bordeaux. The Roue de Paris, a 200 foot Ferris wheel, has made a jolie return to the Place de la Concord where it debuted for the Millennium in 2000 (we rode it then), offering amazing views from the circling red, blue and white lighted wheel. The City of Light was about to be lit up, right on schedule. Looking closer, I noticed armed soldiers on the streets and tighter security entering major stores as guards checked my bags.
My other takeaway was the absence of fashion on the streets, restaurants and concert venues, as if Parisians didn't want to stand out with their clothing and accessories. Ripped jeans, leather bomber jackets and tennis shoes remained the top look, not only on the streets but in the fashion houses of Yves St. Laurent and Galliano. The windows along Avenue Montaigne revealed caution in design, with trench coats and camouflage prints. Survivor style is the new trend.
My fashion fix came from an exhibit in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, starring none other than Barbie. The iconic doll has made it to the big stage, with her story and clothes exhibited on two floors of this renowned museum next to the Louvre. I was most impressed with the sets that were designed for Barbie photo shoots, detailed down to Barbie seamstresses sewing away on tiny little sewing machines. I've owned Barbie since her 1959 debut, and have seen her style evolve from the black and white striped bathing suit to the Andy Warhol design that came back with me from the exhibit. Though I know her story well, I was in awe of this collection and presentation. Barbie is a survivor!
If I were to send a postcard from my trip it would say: Paris is fabulous … visited my good friend Barbie. Can't wait to come back! Love, Christina.