People always ask me what I love most about Paris, having lived there recently for over a year. Truthfully, I can't sum it up in just a few words, as there are so many of my reasons to love Paris (many of which are very odd and peculiar.) See below, my favorites list may surprise you....
And stay tuned as I will be sharing conversely what I dislike about Paris (much of this is humorous, mind you.) Due to the recent events, while I planned to share post with you next week, I've decided to shelf it for a bit, until it's a more appropriate time.
It’s simply the most beautiful, charming city to explore (rain or shine.) It's endless, there is just so much to discover - walking down a new street, seeing a new perspective along the Seine. It's a photographer's dream city, even if you are not a photographer - you may just become one.
The Marais - for chic shopping, charming narrow streets, Jewish delights, museums, and my favorite French restaurant - Breizh (for galettes, aka buckwheat crepes.)
People are much less likely to be on their smartphones than my American counterparts. (Not everyone is trying to instagram the moment.)
Oh the little things, and how they can make all of the difference. This has been a frustration all my life. I hate that top-sheet on my bed! I have been kicking them off, and wrinkling them at the foot of my bed for years. Simple solution as the Parisians do - fitted sheet on the mattress, and duvet cover on top (no top-sheet) - done.
The markets! It’s such a joy to select the freshest produce and dialogue with the local vendors several times a week.
Shopping! Fashion shopping is the most exquisite experience. Paris has the shopping best in the world (well for me, tied with Tokyo) .
Expats! While I am sure there are great expat communities all around the world, I believe there is something truly special about the expats in Paris. This is not the easiest city to adjust to (i.e. Parisian friends can be hard to make), yet we expats stick together and help each other out. They also write wicked-awesome blogs (i.e. David Lebovitz) and start savvy businesses.
Cafe culture! Oh how fabulous it is to lounge at an outdoor café (during any season) to people watch, reflect, journal, or just enjoy the moment!
The Parisians are really masterful with the senses. I have such affinity now for smell (excluding the smelly metro.) From visiting fragrant florist shops, to appreciating candles, soaps, essential oils, fresh herbs, lavender anything, smell is divine.
There’s a shop for anything! Why go to an all-in-1 big-box store when there are independent stores of depth, choice, and quality? From jam, champagne, fancy umbrellas, specific-style lingerie, pearls, soap, leather oxfords, you name it... there is a store for it.
The people are just so flippin’ stylish. Every time I am away from Paris and return, I’m instantly in awe of the Parisian style! This has been my greatest fashion education ever, just admiring the locals.
The joy of visitors! I’ve had family and friends have visit, and many with genuine intentions to stop in. It’s great to see people! If I lived in tin-buck-too, I doubt anyone would come. Paris on the other hand… everyone wants to visit Paris. I’m just an extra excuse to make the trip.
Endless museums. My favorites are Musee Rodin, Quai Branly, Centre Pompidou, Les Arts Decoratifs, and Musee Picasso.
Monet’s Gardens, yes those lily ponds really do exist and they are spectacular. (Note - not in Paris, but a train ride away in Giverny.)
Back in the US, I dislike most pharmacies, which are chalk-full of pharmaceuticals and cancer-causing chemical products. Parisian pharmacies, however, are vastly different. Shelves are stocked full with homeopathy, organic products, and true-health products. At my former local pharmacy in the 5th arrondissement, I stocked up on organic smoothie powders (chlorella, hemp seed, spirulina), high-quality vitamins, and organic skin care.
Parks! Small, large, tucked around the corner, impressive, quaint - there’s a park for every mood.
The fashion of Haute Couture. If it’s Haute Couture, it means Paris. End of story.
Dogs are civilized in behavior Paris (re: not aggressive or loose), thanks be God (I was nearly attached by one in another country.)
Perfect pastries. To-die-for croissants. Rich butter. Foie gras. Bubbly champagne. Escargot. A decedent, multi-course tasting menu. Refined food with best of all, no guilt allowed.
The arrondissements - Paris is really city of 20 neighborhoods, each with their own flair and distinctions. I've lived/worked/stayed in at least half by now.
The fashion industry reigns supreme in Paris. Sure there is NYC, London, Milan, Tokyo. But there's still an edge about Paris. The designers, fashion shows, ateliers, trade shows, exhibitions, industry events in Paris win out in my opinion.
Moroccan, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Japanese, Peruvian, Lebanese? Vegan? Gluten free? Want a gourmet hamburger from a food truck? Italian gelato? A Finnish or Australian cup of coffee? There are endless food options.
Elegant tea salons, all across town, to leisure as long as I please.
Cookware. You can even follow the steps of Julia Child, as I once did.
Vintage shopping. You would not believe how much vintage Chanel I've come across....
The classics. Tailored pieces. Black and solid colors. Stripes. Trench coat. Le scarf. (As an expressionist, I’ve finally learned to appreciate smart basics!)
Discreteness. Despite the city environment, Parisians are typically rather quiet-toned in public. They also are generally quite private and don’t pry far in your business.
Pont Alexandre III, the most stunning bridge to witness.
Sundays are the 7th day, to rest. It's quiet. Recharge. Top it off with a Sunday family dinner.
Bragging rights. Despite all of the hardships of living in Paris, it's the most brag-worthy city to tell people that you live here.
Romance. PDA. It's allowed and celebrated. You can totally make out in public, staying classy of course.
Beets. Oh how I love beets, but hate the mess of boiling/baking them. There must be some beet-preparation factory in France, because all beets at the market/grocers come already prepared!
The Eiffel Tower sparkles on the hour, every hour after sunset. I mean really, it never gets old!
I'd love to know, have you been to Paris? What favorites would you add to this list? And if you've never been to Paris, what are you most looking forward to experiencing when you make it there? Leave in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!