Merce and the Muse Paris Erica BermanMerce 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.

One and Only Paris LoveLove 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.

You might also like

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.


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. Glad to hear it Hazel! I’ll be publishing a post on this subject in a couple of weeks on my blog. I’m sorta obsessed with this issue lately to tell you the truth. Tell me if I am overkilling it! 😉

  2. 🙂 my point exactly Erica…roll with it! And yes Tory there are days of mystification still…thank goodness. But if it didn’t provoke a roller coaster of emotions and experiences with highs and lows, it would be so much less interesting for sure.

  3. Hey Melissa, A very fair and well-articulated point! I like to gush about the fairy-tale side of Paris, as I think it’s often what draws people in. But yes, when we’re lucky enough to spend significant rime in Paris, we can delve into the nuances of the place, which never fail to fascinate–and often mystify– me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *