Are you a francophile? Are you familiar with the term francophile? According to Google, a francophile is a person who is fond of or greatly admires France or the French.
For me, my francophilia stems from books like French Women Don’t Get Fat, Forever Chic, Entre Nous, and All You Need to Be Impossibly French. Also from movies like Aristocats, A Good Year, French Kiss, Midnight in Paris, and For Lovers Only. These stories beckoned me to the city, and ultimately landed this francophile smack-dab in Paris this summer.
Now, I understand that these books and movies come from a romanticize, idealized, and generalized narrative of France and its people. I also understand that France and its people are just as layered and nuanced as anywhere else throughout the world. Nevertheless, I am unapologetically a romantic, so I am okay with weeding through these generalizations and easily putting them in their appropriate place.
All this to say, after a couple of decades of devouring all things “French”, this not-so-closeted francophile finally got to go to Paris. And of course, I experienced my week in Paris through the lenses of rose colored glasses.
I won’t exhaust anyone with a minute by minute, or day by day retelling of my experience. Instead I will share a few key takeaways from my week long Parisian adventure. Will those takeaways be generalized or romanticized? Maybe. But it was my experience, so I guess I get to see it the way I want to see it.
First, let’s talk architecture.
Paris is breathtakingly beautiful. And it is no doubt that the backdrop of Paris is its architecture, which is a huge part of its beauty. Just to be clear, the areas of Paris I visited were the “historical” & “touristy” areas. I basically stayed within the parameters of the 20 arrondissements of Paris, and no, I did not hit up all 20.
The creamy, intricately ornate stone architecture with their quintessential wrought iron balconies took my breath away — constantly. I essentially walked around the city in complete awe! Just when I established one building facadę to be my favorite, a new one rose up around the corner and three blocks over. All of it truly is ridiculously beautiful.
The museums, government buildings, castles, apartments, & cathedrals — every erected edifice that flooded the city was site to behold. The layering of styles were a complimentary amalgamation of genius and beauty — from the Gothic style, Art Nouveau, French Renaissance, Belle Époque, and Art Deco — the city was any art historians fantasy.
I tried to capture the beauty with my camera, and as beautiful as the images are, they still pale in comparison to the real Paris.
Second, culture & history.
The history of Paris is incredibly rich. I forget how young the US is and therefore how lacking US history feels, comparatively. So the history found within the city walls of Paris, in so many words, WOW. All the historical sites, buildings, parks, castles, cathedrals, fountains, and endless historical accounts just seem to flow like the Seine as an endless stream of Parisian culture & history, from one arrondissement to the next.
The historical & cultural scene of Paris is some of the best in the world. From the countless exhibits, museums, monuments, and parks, the city never left you feeling bored, instead, only wanting more. Did I see it all? Not even close. Most of my experience of Paris felt as though I was on the outside looking in. There’s an interesting thought I could unpack later, not just yet though.
Needless to say, I cannot wait to return and dive in a bit deeper into all the beauty, history, and opportunity Paris has to offer.
Third, the cafés.
OMG the cafe’s! Seriously?
The food, incredible. The Aperol spritz, perfection. The pastries, to die for. The coffee, meh, I’ve had better. The patio cafés, S H U T . U P ! ! !
I would go back to Paris just to sit all day at a cafê — N O T . E V E N . K I D D I N G ! While I was there, I sat at at least one a day, if not two — I think one day I even got to sit at three, that was a good day. Did I sit at enough cafés? Nope. Do I need to sit at more parisian café patios? One million times YES!
The Parisian café, brasserie, bistro, & patio scene is next level, and its own thing altogether. They are utterly worth going back to Paris for! And if given the chance to enjoy the café for lunch or drinks after lunch, don’t miss out on experiencing a gourmand. It is an espresso with 3 or 4 small accompanying desserts. BEST THING EVER! You can thank me later.
Lastly, the essence of Paris.
The city of lights, or the city of love, whatever you call it, there is this undeniable feeling that embodies this city.
Paris has a feel to her, a mood, an essence about her. The city pulls you in and kisses you lightly on both cheeks. She then ties herself to you in a way I can’t quite put my finger on.
The city vibe is elegant, sensual, mysterious, & a little bit mischievous all at once. In the daylight, she charms you with her beauty, her history, and her lingering promises. While at night, she sings a sirens song that lures you through her streets as if drunk on love. It’s beautiful, it’s inviting, and it keeps you on the edge wanting more.
THIS IS PARIS.