The cliché of Paris is its magnificence. Yes, it lives up to many of its burgeoning stereotypes – opulent, très chic, grumpy(sometimes) – and the indubitable notion of elegance and luxury. Its opulence, its style, even its pomposity, render the city a destination almost everyone falls in love with.

But take a local and the lens looks different. For illustrator and graphic artist Mez Clark, the magic of the French capital lays less in its luxury and more in its romance, whimsy and ability to spark creativity. “Find a corner in a café, order a coffee and sit down and take in the atmosphere. Watch the world go by for a while,” she suggests of the “pretty picture postcard” she calls home. “During ‘le confinement’ [read: lockdown] I worked on a couple of illustration projects. Art and creativity is a massive part of Paris’s culture, so sketching and writing always brings me close to the feeling of living that ‘Bohemian Parisian life’.”

For her window illustration, Clark has worked her usual “playful” aesthetic in with some humour and love. “I remember the business of Paris; the rushing around, the excitement. There was also so many things to see and even more places to be,” she says. Thinking back to her younger years, Clark’s fondest memory is running from one movie theatre to the Opera. “One winter’s evening, my sister, a friend and I saw Harry Potter at the ciné before going to the Opéra to see Swan Lake,” Clark says. “In between, we enjoyed a rather cheesy fondue. We were living at the ‘foyer de la jeune fille’ which was a property run by Spanish nuns. They would lock up at a certain time of night so we had to run home so as not to be shut out. It was a super fun night.”

When the world opens up and you do return to Paris, take the scene less travelled. “Hot cheese and egg crêpes are my favourite,” Clarksays. “They are cheap, warm and perfectly portable so you can continue walking around the city. Equally croissants or any French pastries are a must. Oh and don’t forget the oreillettes.”

After a long day of walking, Clark suggests having a late-night drink and sitting along Canal Saint-Martin with friends. After a year inside, the mind truly boggles at such a thought.

Follow Mez Clark @mez.clark


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