Paris Tara

Life in General, Living Abroad, Travel in France

I love Paris, I really do.  It is fabulous to visit – so many different neighborhoods to wander through, so much to do, amazing museums, exceptional restaurants, history and art at every corner.  Every time that we go for a weekend I discover some new part of town that I’ve never been to before; I will never tire of it…of visiting it.

But what do you mean, visit it?  Why wouldn’t you want to live there?”

“Yeah, I don’t get it, why don’t you live in Paris?”

“I mean, when you moved to France, how come you didn’t choose to live in Paris?”

“Where would you live beside Paris?  Wait a minute, are you saying that there are other cities in France besides PARIS?”

“PARIS…PARIS…paris…PARIS!”

The way non-Frenchies (meh…and sometimes Parisians…you know who you are) talk about Paris kind of reminds me of the final scene in “Gone with the Wind” – check out this clip at about the 1 minute mark:

(SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT: If you have never seen “Gone with the Wind” this completely gives away the ending…also, if you have never seen “Gone with the Wind”, slap yourself and go rent buy this film immediately.)

 

Foreigners are obsessed with Paris; I mean, how many books, films, articles are written about the glories of living the expat life in Paris?  It’s as though if a foreigner comes to France they must be doing so in order to find themselves (“Um…their true self”, she says while straightening her Lisa Loeb glasses and sipping an organic chai tea) in the quirky, intellectual, and artistic world of Paris.  I mean, come on, Hemingway and Fitzgerald (both super happy guys, right?) did it and then Woody Allen made a movie about it and how he desperately wanted to do it so there must be something to it, no?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash on Paris or on the inspiration provided by that fair city.  I mean, hell, I buy it, man – Paris is dead sexy, wildly provocative, and classically romantic all at the same time…a combination which packs quite a punch.

I remember my first visit there; I went out by myself in the afternoon.  I dressed in skinny jeans and ballet flats with a loose tank top and a blazer thrown over my shoulder, I hardly wore any make-up and let my hair stayed tousled and messy.  As I stepped out of my hotel, I flipped my Ipod on and listened to Billie Holiday while walking along the Seine, I took myself to the Louvre, I got an ice-cream cone (Berthillon…obviously) and watched the boats float by while pontificating about life…it was all very Truffaut-esque.  Paris made me feel different; that is a power that Paris invariably has…especially for foreigners.

I’m just saying – there is more to France than Paris.

“OHMAGOD, what did she just say?”

“She does NOT know what she is talking about.”

“I don’t even…I’m just…PARIS!”

For instance, Paris: NOT the gastronomic center of France.

*GASP OF HORROR*

Paris is excellent for getting a taste of a lot of different types of French cuisine in one place and the classic French bistro is undoubtedly Parisian but Lyon is actually the major gastronomic city of France and areas like Burgundy, Normandy, Perigord, Provence, and the Southwest (just to name a few) all have their own regional cuisines.  Foie gras, escargot, brie, camembert?  None of these things are produced in Paris.  Boeuf bourginon, coq au vin, cassoulet?  Not Parisian dishes.  And don’t even get me started on wine.  Why buy the wine for 3 times as much at a restaurant in Paris without even tasting it when you can buy it for 3 times as much at the vineyard in Burgundy AFTER having a few sips?

The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Versailles are super cool (hall of mirrors – what what!) but so are the Chateau’s of Loire, the Roman ruins in Provence, and the various medieval castles you see from the highway during a road-trip.

I guess my point is that Paris is cool but France is even cooler.  It is a virtual wonderland of food, wine, and history and Paris is a part of that…not all of it.

So go to Paris, don your sunglasses and walk around, maybe get a coffee and smoke a cigarette…even if you don’t smoke.  Wear attractive shoes even though you know you will be walking all day, never hurry, and think serious and deep thoughts… let yourself be enveloped by the city, by its contradictory combination of sensuousness and utter coolness…then get out of there and go see France.

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Paris Tara

  1. I think many Americans have misconceptions about all “foreign” countries’ best-known cities. We think London is the epitome of England; Dublin is all there is to Ireland; Rome (or perhaps, Venice) is the end-all of Italy. It usually boils down to ignorance. It’s all we know from movies, books, etc. It’s like people from other countries thinking that New York City is ultra-American. Stereotypes are easier to process. But you don’t truly know a country until you’ve seen its wide-open spaces (says the girl who’s never been outside the U.S.).

    1. Oh for sure – this is something that happens to every country! And there are books about Provence and other parts of France but it is funny how after more than two years, people will still ask my how Paris is…haha – don’t live there! But yes, I think you are right – in all of my travels, the best parts are when you get in to the country and away from the big cities. I feel like that is when you really get the vibe of a place!

  2. I am in total agreement! In fact I wrote something similar this week myself 🙂 I do like Paris and when I was younger I absolutely adored it. But I find especially in the blogosphere there seems to be more blogs dedicated to Paris than any other city. Even American blogs seem to concentrate on Paris more than NY even. I am glad you wrote this piece as it is very fair and balanced! PS Found your blog through Heather from Lost in Arles.

    1. Thanks so much for reading!! Phew…I’m relieved that you agree – I was afraid I might get skewered for this one. 🙂 But yeah, I love Paris but there is just SO much more to France and I wish people would branch out more when they come for visits or to live. So much to discover. Look forward to reading your post on the subject!

  3. I totally agree with this – I live in Paris because I work here, but otherwise I would definitely choose to be somewhere else. What’s funny though, is that apart from the true born and bred Parisians, the majority of the French people here seem to come from somewhere else and be desperate to climb far enough up the career ladder to be able to get back there.

    1. I can totally see that! My husband is a born and bred Parisian and while he love the city he doesn’t want to live there “for life”. I think it is a fabulous place but you definitely have to be a big city person which I’ve discovered I am not. For me, I like the country – give me Provence and Burgundy for long-term and Paris for the weekend so that I can soak up all the fabulous culture. 🙂 Thanks for reading!!

  4. I definitely used to think Paris was the ONLY place to visit in France! Then I visited Nice and Strasbourg. Each has such a totally different vibe, which makes me want to see more of France. Lyon and the Brittany region are definitely on my list…

    1. Brittany has AMAZING seafood – best oysters I’ve ever eaten were when I was there. 🙂 But yeah – it’s so cool once you get out and explore…there is just so much more to the country than a lot of foreigners realize.

  5. Well said. I grew up close to France and spent all my summer’s in the country not Paris. Now we live in Paris, except we chose the (gasp!) suburbs out near Versailles. Even though we are very close to the city it is a world away. We have forrest a ten minute walk from our door and so many lovely towns just a short drive away. Paris is great, but I love the rest of France more.

    1. Haha – gasp – PARIS SUBURBS?!?! That actually seems like a perfect combo to me – you have the wonderful nature and the calmness but when you want Paris you are just a short train away.

  6. Oh, but it’s such a similar situation to foreigners always gushing about NYC (especially Parisians!)…There is so much more to US of A than just New York or LA but people seem to register mostly just these 2 cities…well, maybe with the addition of Washington…but it’s never half as sexy as the other two…

    I agree with you wholeheartedly! 🙂

    1. So true! I think every country suffers from this a bit – Tokyo, London, Dublin…etc. I like to visit those big cities but rarely do I like that to be my whole visit to a new place – I think you really get a feel for a country when you get out of the major cities! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed – thanks for reading!

  7. I don’t want to live in Paris either. I share the same feelings as you, it’s great to visit, but I am a small city person. Sometimes I read blogs of expats in Paris and I feel so disconnected from their experiences. Life in province really is different.

    I remember visiting France for the first time when I was 17. I remember thinking, “I’m so cool, I’m in Paris and Nice!” haha. Now I think it’s cool to visit a wine maker in Burgundy or visit a cheese farm in the Jura. I remember thinking after my trip to Paris and Nice, “Now I can say that I have been to France!” If I could only go back and slap my 17-year-old self.

    1. haha – awww…poor 17 year old you! 🙂 But I know what you mean…I guess also our tastes just tend to change as we get older. 17 year old me was bored stiff outside of big cities and now I’m just kind of like “meh”. I’m with you – take me to meet with a winemaker or cheese-maker anyday – wait a minute, maybe it is just that as we get older we become gluttons? 😉 Thanks for reading!!

  8. Lol. I got that too when I told people we were moving to France. Friends were like “wow, I’d love to live in Paris too!” When I told them we were moving to Nice they just couldn’t get it.

    1. lol!! Haha – “nice? is that IN France???” Too funny – it’s always the same! Speaking of – we are planning on heading to Nice at some point this summer, I will have to get some pointers from you!

  9. This cracks me up, it’s so true! Because I live in France, everyone thinks I must know everything there is to do and see in Paris. I get emailed all the time for Paris advice and I’m like hello… I live really really far away, like opposite side of the country far away. They just don’t get it.

  10. Definitely empathise. I’ve lived in 4 different places in France, not including Paris, and it gets tiresome when I mention living in France and people start talking about Paris. But my family is from northern England and the same thing happens there, people just jump straight to taking about London every time.

    1. Yeah, exactly, I think that every country has their “Paris” that everyone associates with it. It makes it all the more fun when you meet people who know something outside of the norm!

  11. Totally agree! It never ceases to amaze me how much Paris is the be all and end all for so many people including Parisians. It’s as if there is Paris and then the rest of France. Great post!

    1. Thanks so much!! Yep – was just back in the USA for a trip and everyone kept asking me how I liked living in Paris – it really is like it’s own little country.

  12. Good girl! You got it out there. Have you gotten any hate mail? 🙂 I consider Paris a fun place to visit, but I’d never want to live there. Just like New York. I’ll take the sun of the south any day. After 4 1/2 years of living in France, some of my closest friends still assume I live in Paris. Geez! Of course, French people assume I know New York like the back of my hand.

    1. haha – no hate mail yet but funny you should mention because I was definitely a bit worried about that when I posted! You said it – that is exactly how I feel about NYC too – I love it for a visit but would never want to live there. Give me sun and give me nature! Ah…so even after 4 1/2 years people still don’t get it? Guess I’ll just have to accept! 🙂

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