I’m recently back in New York from Paris and am suffering a particularly acute bout of withdrawal. I think part of the problem is that the structure of my days changes completely when I cross the ocean. On the European side, time expands and flows and I rarely even know (or care) what day it is. Here, on the rational side of the Atlantic, I’m over-scheduled from morning until night. It goes something like this.
New York Day
• Wake up when my alarm goes off (or when my upstairs neighbor’s alarm goes off—the perils of living in a poorly insulated industrial loft).
• Go running, as need to expend all energy for the day before settling into a chair for the next ten hours.
• Eat cereal. Healthy, practical cereal.
• If have time, stop for an espresso at Euro-favorite Cafe Gitane. Pretend to be Parisian. It’s not the same.
• Brave the Canal Street crush, which involves dodging aggressive pashmina vendors and dozens of dawdling tourists.
• During overcrowded subway ride, contemplate moving back to Paris for the thousandth time. Listen to Serge Gainsbourg to twist the knife in my heart even more.
• Get to work. In essence, I like my job, but I have such restlessness and A.D.D. that it kills me to think I have to spend a day in a chair, when I could otherwise be spending it roaming quiet Parisian streets.
• Post-work, sprint to event / drinks / dinner. Inevitably show up late. Friends annoyed, because they won’t give you a table in New York until all party members arrive. Friends even more annoyed when I accidentally double air kiss them.
• Then stay out too late.
• Then go to bed, way too late.
• Go wandering. On my last trip, I loved heading south from Belleville, crossing the Canal St. Martin, and conveniently finding myself at Du Pain et Des Idées, one of Paris’ best rustic boulangeries.
• Decadent pain au chocolat in hand, I begin my loitering for the day by lounging on the edge of the canal.
• Get restless, so wander through the Marais, stopping at Cafeotheque for a café du jour, before strolling across the Pont Louis-Philippe to the Ile St. Louis, where I install myself at the western tip of the island and gaze off into space for a while.
• When restless again, meander to the Left Bank, stopping to take in the Institut du Monde Arabe, and then strolling over to my old neighborhood, where I stop in at the market at Place Monge and the traiteurs along rue Mouffetard. One shop owner still refers to me as “la plus belle” whenever I see him (I’m always up for some good French-style ego-stroking).
• Inevitably end up lounging by the Fontaine des Médicis, stopping in for macarons at Pierre Hermé, poking around Repetto, and making a pit-stop at Deyrolle (to fuel my inexplicable taxidermy obsession).
• Before you know it, it’s time for an apéro. Convene with friends at Le Baron Rouge for wine. Everyone will be late; no one will care.
• Perhaps pop into a low-key vernissage in the Marais or in Montmartre.
• Dinner is unplanned. We might head to Le Verre Volé, or Robert et Louise, or whatever café will have us.
• Then maybe drinks, which often inspire impromptu dance parties. Spontaneous karaoke happens more often than seems logical.
• Time has gotten away from us… the bars are closing and the Eiffel Tower’s lights are off, and we are wandering along the quais, or through the quiet streets of the Marais.
• The metro’s closed. No cabs. Don’t know how we’re getting home. Maybe hop on a Vélib, or just wander.
• Eventually go to bed. No idea what time it is. Don’t care.
If you were me, would you live in Paris or New York?
- Stuff Parisians Like
- Paris vs NYC Blog
- Badaude’s blog on life between Paris & London
- Little Brown Pen’s mesmerizing blog captures Paris’ most beautiful angles
Janelle Mentesana was born and raised in Australia. She lives and works in Paris as an illustrator, and she enjoys taking pictures of people outside her window with baguettes in their hands. Lisa Weatherbee is a New York based photographer and designer, currently eating and shooting her way through Paris. Dave Bloom is a tepid consultant and aspiring expatriate; born in the Midwest and working his way east via DC, hoping to join us in Paris for grad school.