Merce and the Muse – coffee and cakes – Erica Berman
Those who have lived in Paris know: we are endowed with a magical power.
Once you’ve been a Parisian (or a faux Parisian), you automatically have the ability to cast a spell over any American you subsequently encounter, simply by sprinkling key phrases into conversation:
“Well, when I lived in Paris…”
“I used to live in Paris, so…”
“In Paris (I used to live there)…”
“…reminds me a little bit of Paris, but…”
Yes, you will sound slightly (or completely) pretentious. But more importantly, you will elicit a distinct blend of jealousy and awe from whomever you are addressing, because quite simply, you have lived their dream. In fact, you have lived many an American’s dream.
Love along the Seine river- One and Only Paris Photography
From this side of the Atlantic, the darker realities of Parisian living (endless strikes, French bureaucracy, the exchange rate, the French attitude) cease to exist. It’s all fresh-baked baguettes and macarons and aimless strolling and sunsets over the Seine and, of course, L-O-V-E.
And for many, this imagined Paris is somehow more real than the actual city.
My more cynical Paris-based friends describe Americans as “dazzled” by the city, caught in a state of naive perma-pleasure. This is undoubtedly true, but what’s the harm? We all need a happy place, and who’s to say it has to be a real place?
Even those of us who have transcended the initial romance of Paris (and discovered its less-than-lovely elements) know what it is to be under the spell—to hear about someone else traveling to or living in Paris, and to be simultaneously elated and gripped with envy. Your pulse quickens, and suddenly, you’re desperate for either a cigarette or a block of butter (or both).
It’s quite debilitating, but it’s an important part of a timeless cycle. Those of us that can now create the “Paris Effect” were once victims of it. And that’s probably what drew us there in the first place.
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