Posted: 09/04/2014 | September 4th, 2014
As I exited the subway and stared, first, at the Arc de Triomphe and then down the Champs-Élysées, fashionably dressed people in their fitted pants, beautiful dresses, and black jackets moved around me, a tourist too lovestruck to move.
The city was everything I thought it would be: beautiful, sophisticated, historic, and filled with a sophisticated energy that enticed me with its charm like a Siren’s song. It was cliched. Yet there I was. Falling for it all.
Subsequent visits only deepened my love for Paris. Paris has been written about countless times over the centuries – and will continue to be until humans lose the ability to create words. It is a city that enchants and captivates us.
As Hemingway said, Paris is a moveable feast. It stays with you no matter where you are
To me, Paris is smart, classy, sophisticated, and soulful. Its seemingly endless history mixes effortlessly with modern life.
Paris constantly reveals herself through solitary walks through her history, from the Place de la Concorde where Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and countless others lost their heads, to the Tuileries Garden built to accompany its namesake palace that burned down in 1871.
There is the Louvre, a centuries-old royal residence turned art museum; the ancient Sainte-Chapelle, home to stained glass windows dating to the 13th century; Notre-Dame, whose presence looms over the city’s historic center; the Jardin de Luxembourg; Montmartre; and the Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter, with its patchwork of winding streets that used to be home to working-class Parisians and artists, always seems to reveal something new.
And, while my mind loses itself in history, my senses pull me back into the present. Sharply dressed Parisians make me reconsider my drab backpacker uniform of a t-shirt and jeans. The smells from the patisseries turn me, a hater of desserts, into a lover of them. How can one deny such exquisitely glazed and decorated tarts? These are a delicious work of art.
All the fromage shops, bakeries, and markets where one can fill up for only a few euros make expensive Paris a foodie’s budget dream.
A trip to Paris is nonstop eating, with rich food washed down by smooth red wine. In Paris, gluttony is not excess but a way of life.
Although I love my home in NYC, the city’s hustle and bustle and dog-eat-dog mentality often clashes with the go-with-the-flow attitude I’ve learned from traveling.
Paris does not.
Here people stop to appreciate the little things in life — lunches that linger over wine, two-month vacations, picnics in the park, shops closing early, and daily market outings.
In Paris, life is a play and each act is dedicated to what matters most: food, wine, friends, love, and conversation. Here one lives life rather than racing through it.
I idealize Paris. I know this. My romantic notion of the city, born of books and movies, is only reinforced by each visit. And, like any long-distance love affairs, we idealize the good and gloss over the bad. Daily life in Paris may not be as romantic as I believe (Update 2019: I spent months living in Paris. It wasn’t perfect but it was close).
The city has its flaws, especially it comes to race relations and class divide. It has problems.
But we all need some romance in our lives.
Paris is mine.
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