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COLUMN: Paris, je t’aime: Coming back to the greatest city in the world



shakespeare

Shakespeare and Company, the most famous English-language bookstore in Paris. Rachel Rosenstock visited the store during her weekend visit in Paris. Rachel Rosenstock Buy Photos

Don’t trust anyone who says they don’t like Paris. They’re either trying too hard or they’re straight up lying. Paris is without a doubt the best city in the world.

You can love your hometown, you can love New York or Los Angeles, but when it comes down to it, Paris beats them all — whether you’ve experienced it yet or not.

I firmly believe there’s a reason many famous poets, authors, musicians and performers had a stint living or working in Paris — it can inspire even the most cynical person and breathe new life into the average Joe.

You simply can’t visit Paris and not feel exhilarated. 

I’ve been itching to make a visit since I landed in Charles de Gaulle and was whisked straight away to the south of France without even a glimpse of the Parisian skyline.

Even the dreary sky and sharp cold that greeted me in the 11th arrondissement Friday afternoon after months of sunshine and warmth only made me more excited.

I was determined to explore all the hidden corners of Paris I had missed on my previous two visits.

My hostel was right in the heart of Chinatown, and I immediately took advantage of the cheap but quality food available on every street.

The French really haven’t mastered the balance of spice and flavor yet like the Chinese have, though.

I headed down to Oberkampf Street, one of the trendiest and most bustling areas in the arrondissement. It was a welcome change to experience Paris without tourists clogging every corner and traps waiting to take your money.

Saturday was devoted to shopping and a little sightseeing. The Marais is one of Paris’ oldest neighborhoods and the home of chic boutiques in which I happily dropped some cash.

My original determination to avoid tourist landmarks quickly slid to the wayside when I had the chance to visit Shakespeare and Company, the most famous English-language bookstore in the city.

I got a new book with the official store stamp on the cover and met the resident cat that lived upstairs. It was definitely worth braving the crowd.

Saturday night was dedicated to indulging in oysters, a northern France specialty and an easy way to feel sophisticated in a cosmopolitan city. I highly recommend ISTR’s oyster shot if you’re ever feeling inspired.

As I sat in a café Sunday, I couldn’t help but admit I didn’t want to leave. I love Aix-en-Provence, and I heartily believe it’s a better location to learn the language, but I’m eager to live in Paris.

It’s simultaneously the ultimate exaggeration of French culture and the easiest place in the country to be a foreigner because of how many of us there are.

It’s almost an ostentatious place with how striking and beautiful every street is, how delicious even the smallest pastry is and how alive the history of France is everywhere you turn.

It’s a city that doesn’t slow down for anyone, but if you enjoy the ride, you’ll never want to leave.

You can be assured, I’m already looking for a ticket back.

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