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I Know I’m in Paris When…

Zdenko Zivkovic

When I arrive in Paris, it never hits me all at once. Rather, the realization that I’ve returned to my city-of-choice creeps up on me via small encounters, random observations and chance interactions. And when I finally realize where I am—Paris!—I begin to wonder, “Why did I ever leave?”

We’ll leave that question for another time, but for now, here’s how I know I’ve arrived.

1. I forget how to tell time, and relinquish the notion of scheduling. On my most recent visit, it took me a full 36 hours to realize that daylight savings had occurred. It didn’t help that when I had arrived a few days earlier and asked my boyfriend, “Where’s your clock?,” his response was: “There is no clock. I’m your clock.” Well, it turns out he’s a very unreliable clock—albeit a handsome one.

2. Everyone is buzzing about the same new spot.

Candelaria storefront on the rue Saintonge (Lost in Cheeseland)

Of course, this happens in every city, but in New York, the buzz is more liberally distributed. Paris’ slower rate of restaurant turnover means you can literally watch the swarm of foodies descend on the newest (and hopefully well-prepared) hot spots. This time around, it was all about Candelaria, which is to restaurants what the mullet is to haircuts: simple up front, hidden party in the back.

Delicious tacos at Candelaria (Lost in Cheeseland)

3. I can eat my weight in food and not get (too) fat. It’s one of the most beautiful unsolved mysteries of life in Paris. I can spend a week eating nothing but St. Marcellin, steak, tarte tatin and guzzling Cote du Rhone, and somehow end up thinner. There must be something in the Parisian water. Or perhaps I have gained weight and everyone’s just kindly letting me ride out this illusion. Hmmm…


4. I start buying myself roses. Roses aren’t normally my thing, but in Paris, I always come across these special ivory-colored ones that have a slight pink tint and a green tinge around the edges of the petals. They remind me of ballerinas, and at just 7 Euros per botte (“bunch”) at my local market, they suddenly morph from “occasional indulgence” into “daily necessity.”

There’s nothing wrong with buying yourself roses (Ddofr)

5. I spot my first dead pigeon. I admit this is a weird one, but nothing says “Paris” to me like a dead pigeon in the street. I have yet to get to the bottom of this mystery (a ravenous pigeon-eating monster roams the streets at night?), but every time I’m here, I come across a carcass or two. I want to say, “Be more careful, guys!” But who am I to tell a Parisian pigeon how to live its life?

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Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Tory Hoen

Tory HoenAfter attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of's Guide To Life After College.

Website: Tory Hoen

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Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “I Know I’m in Paris When…”

  • I know I’m in Paris when I hear the unique sirens, amongst the whir of traffic, while enjoying the longest short coffee with a big grin on my face. Just because I’m back in my love-city.

  • Felicia S. says:

    I know I’m in Paris when I don’t dare snack between meals. To do this would be uncivilized.

  • Jen Laceda says:

    I like the dead pigeon comment!! So true!

    Oh, Paris! It’s so hard not to love her!!!!!

  • Christine says:

    Love this. I know I’m in Paris when all ice disappears and I have to beg the waiter for a glass of tap water :)

  • I adore your photos! You really make me miss Europe, I am dreaming of going to France to see my brother and my cousin!

  • Lindsey says:

    I must not be walking down the same streets – I only ever see the living pigeons causing trouble for pedestrians and motorists! Awesome post.

  • Amy Kortuem says:

    YES. The Au Nom De La Rose shops on the corners especially.

    And it’s always that first “whoosh” of the Metro arriving that lets me know I’m at my heart’s home.

  • Elena says:

    i miss paris each day more and more wishing i could go back to that lovely piece of heaven. Montmartre was my favorite part of paris, yes there are a million stairs and steep streets but i can over look those for the beautiful church and the main center filled with cafes and artists lined around painting and selling their works. my absolute favorite part of paris that i miss is the food! i devoured loves of baguettes, cheese, crepes, pastries, steak and a bottle of wine a night and i didn’t gain an ounce of weight! oh paris how i miss you! *sigh*

  • Tammy says: I also have a great photo of some gorgeous yellow roses that I insisted my hubbie stop and take. We have given this photo to two of my best friends as house warming gifts. It is one of my daily reminders of my most amazing trip to Paris…..

  • Bryan says:

    Those roses and the pigeons…so spot on. I always feel like I’m crazy when I tell people the quirky reasons I love it here — it seems they expect to hear “baguettes and cheese” but there’s so much more. Great post.

  • Ahhhhhhhh!! I so badly want to be back in Paris!!! My favourite neighbourhood is Montmartre. I see Gene Kelly dancing up the walls every time!

  • Tory says:

    Very true. I love that the French still revere mealtime, and it’s a time when everyone is fully “present.” I’m not sure that ever happens to me in New York!

  • Happy City says:

    So true…
    I love this article.
    Have a beautiful day in Paris and everywhere else…

    Happy City

  • So true!

    Love the anecdote about your boyfriend the clock :)

    Big hugs xx

    Camille @ Paris in Pink

  • martha says:

    I would love to see Paris..and I hopefully will do it soon:)
    Then I will read here for good tips:)
    Have a lovely day.)

  • So funny (especially the dead pigeon!)! About not getting fat, it’s probably because you take more time to eat! We love to spend hours eating and talking here! We hate to eat while walking or working! 😉

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