Much like London, one does not visit Paris for the cheery disposition of its residents. Yet here I am again, drinking Beaujolais (bottle #2 of the afternoon), while I look out onto the Sacré-Cœur from the balcony of the apartment I’ve rented for the weekend.
It’s a dirty fucking city when you get to the nub of it. Everyone smokes, every backstreet stinks of fresh piss and gentlemen, please keep your eyes on your man-bags when hit the Gare du Nord. But all the best things in life are covered in a little filth; Paris is hypnotic.
I wish I’d visited more in my hedonistic mid-twenties. It would’ve been a wonderful marriage of chain-smoked Gauloises, cheap vin rouge and lusting after girls far too pretty to bother hiding their disdain. But I was always broke back then and the most exotic place I ever visited was New Cross.
Still, I have it now. Paris and I are tight. This calm, collected “adult” guise I now wear like a second skin fits in just fine with the blazer-clad, scraggly-haired Parisian men. Sure, it’s not quite getting trollied at the back of a club with a hair model (Dior, dahhling), but there’s now dignity where youthful naivety once was, confidence replaces keenness. Getting older ain’t so bad.
From my North London flat, it’s a three hour trip, door-to-door. I visit every six months or so. I wonder if the beauty of the city lies in the priorities of the Parisians: food, sex and food (in that order). There’s certainly something to be said for consuming a bottle of wine with lunch without raised eyebrows and English snickers from the staff or patrons of whatever establishment you choose to get wrecked in. But, really, I know it’s not that. Magical elements, by their very nature, are obscure and undefinable.
I couldn’t live here, but, like the best drugs and exes, there’s a reason I keep coming back. I’m just not sure what that reason is. And I’m okay with that.