“What makes Paris so special?” I get this question a lot. There’s food, art, and centuries of history of course.
But what draws me back again and again is that there’s always something new to discover — if you have an attentive eye. To me, Paris is a master class in seeing.
During our last visit, my husband demonstrated superhuman patience as I developed an obsession with door knockers.
Why? Because many are gorgeous little works of art.
Others are flat-out bizarre, like this dragon-man-lady …
… and this menacing face (which reminded me of Christopher Walken).
Others are ancient, like this one from the Place des Vosges that dates from the 17th century.
Sometimes the door knockers are damaged or silenced, or missing entirely — victims of rust or theft or thoughtless remodeling.
And many, many more are simply functional (if not mundane).
But no matter their shape or size or age or color, these door knockers always catch my attention. Why? I think it’s because they are the most inherently human of Paris’ architectural treasures.
I like to imagine how many hands have touched them over the centuries — in anticipation, perhaps, of seeing a favorite mistress or meeting a new patron. How many times have they been rapped in urgency by a doctor, summoned in the middle of the night? Or with jubilation, to announce the end of a war?
I will leave you and your imagination to conjure these door knockers’ stories.
Text and all images © Heather Munro.