Little Brown Pen Paris restaurant sign

Little Brown Pen Paris buildingsAll photos courtesy of Little Brown Pen

When I leave Paris for extended periods of time, I’m sometimes overcome with a panicky feeling that I’m losing touch, losing ground, floating into a France-less obscurity, and that when I return, I won’t recognize the city anymore. Or worse, that it won’t recognize me.

But as soon as I come back—as I have now, for three weeks—I realize the futility of such thinking. If there is any city that is adamant about retaining its traditions, its quirks, its pace and its “sameness,” it is Paris. So I’m happy to report that the French are more or less wearing the same thing (black), eating the same things (steak frites, baguettes, macarons), waiting for the same thing (retirement) and complaining about the same things (everything).

Little Brown Pen Chairs Paris

Little Brown Pen detail ParisAll photos courtesy of Little Brown Pen

On a recent stroll down the street where I used to live, I spotted the same old wine guy, cheerfully delivering bottles from door to door. He looked just the same as he had two years ago, when he helped me lug a box of champagne to my apartment for my 25th birthday soirée.

When I spent a few weeks in Paris last winter, I was shocked and delighted to discover that my old friend, a particularly scruffy “dog on wheels,” was still kicking around my old neighborhood, rolling harness and all.

Little Brown Pen snow Paris

Little Brown Pen cobblestones ParisAll photos courtesy of Little Brown Pen

And then, of course, we have the tastes, smells and sights that are unmistakably Parisian, and that I can’t imagine will disappear anytime soon: the haunting glow of the Pantheon at night, the salty-sour taste of Poilâne bread, and the steely-smoky smell of rain in November, when the city is teetering on the brink of winter.

Whereas some cities seem to be in a constant state of restlessness, of searching, of shifting, I often think that Paris remains relevant by virtue of its consistency and self-assuredness. It is what it is—take it or leave it.

Little Brown Pen Tuileries

Little Brown Pen girl cafeAll photos courtesy of Little Brown Pen

Of course, there is a “scene” here that moves, evolves, innovates and reinvents. But perhaps more importantly, there is a counter-scene, an anti-scene, an old-school adherence to the things that make Paris Paris. And both young and old, foreigners and French, residents and tourists can probably agree: We like it that way.

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Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog.  All photos taken by Nichole Robertson of  the  wonderful Blog Little Brown Pen. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Tory Hoen

Tory Henwood Hoen has been published by New York Magazine, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Fortune, and others. She was Creative Director of Brand at M.M.LaFleur, where she founded the brand’s digital magazine, The M Dash. Her debut novel, The Arc, is available in bookshops near you and online.


  1. Loved this post and your detailed description of your neighborhood! I’m so happy to know if I ever were to move back to the States, Paris would still feel the same to me during visits back.

  2. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your comments. It’s nice to know this sentiment resonates with so many people in so many different places. Paris has that effect!

  3. I rely on Paris’ beauty and consistency… I love when I’m walking somewhere and am suddenly transported to when I was a student or on one of my previous visits before living here. C’est magique!

  4. I think this is EASILY the most beautiful and truthful love letter to Paris I have seen for some time… 🙂
    A ‘real’ Parisian told me yesterday when i commented on his being ‘a real French, naughty, complaining, charming, rude, funny…’ in his very sec manner: Oh, you know how I love the Italians, I always say We (the French, especially the Parisians) are all Italians BUT we moan about EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME… your lovely, lovely post reminded me of this exchange and made me ‘nod, nod, nod’ – my head nearly fell off!!!

    Posted with wonderful photos – best(est) post of today 🙂

  5. Great photos! I certainly agree–I love wandering through Paris and seeing the same bright blue door, taking a right turn into a hidden courtyard, biting into my falafel that’s just as good every time.

  6. Loved this post – the sentiment and the beautiful pictures. And chuckled at “complaining about the same things (everything)”. I don’t think will really ever change – not the important things!

  7. Love your post! Everything you write about Paris is so insightful and perfect. Thank you for your thoughts, written so well! Looking forward to more…..Paris is endless….:)

  8. This is a truly magnificent post! I absolutely loved it. It is clear from your words, your love for the city of love. Oh how I envy you! I was there four years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. Nor do I think I ever will. There’s something about Paris that makes you feel alive–more beautiful, more chic, more in love with life! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Brilliant post – I try to reassure my friends who move back to the States that Paris will always be here, unchanged, so that they can pick back up where they left off.

  10. Beautiful expressed sentiments. It is this sameness that provides those of us lucky to live here, a feeling of ‘home’.

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