Rewriting My Love Letter to Paris

I’ve been making more of a point to spend quality time with Paris, and I don’t think I’m alone. You get the feeling everyone’s looking for reminders that the capital’s magic is still intact. With every tarte au citron at a favorite bakery, espresso with a friend, or blues show in a bar basement, it seems we’re trying to re-galvanize our pre-November perception of the city by connecting to what makes it beautiful.

We’re all, in a way, in the process of rewriting our love letters to Paris.

For me that letter begins and ends with the solo strolls I’ve enjoyed so often over the years, which is what brought me to the island of Île Saint-Louis for a winter’s walk. The sky was a hopeful blue, the temperature mild enough for shutter fingers, and I needed to be reminded of how lovely life can be as a flaneur.

So I did some flaneur…ing.

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Just as I’d hoped, small acts of local life playing out along the quays were an affirmation that Paris was still Paris. The following scene was early on in my walk and couldn’t have been more perfect. You wonder which party was enjoying the exchange more!

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Just a few steps later I stood stealthily behind a tree as I pondered what these gents might be training for. I suppose I could’ve asked, but the trick to being a flaneur is that you’re a passionate observer. One doesn’t disturb the players in a play, after all. You just enjoy the show.

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This guy impressively managed to doze off in the sun while maintaining the utmost patriotism. Perhaps he wanted to ensure that should another major event transpire, there’d be no question of which side he was on. Vive le nap, my compatriot!

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And when the breeze and the sun hits the leaves and the mood is right, the architecture seems to speak comforting words about solidity the permanence of the world. The activity of these streets varies day to day but their stones remain unchanged through it all. There’s some sort of reassuring metaphor in that.

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Small interactions like a fils catching up with his papa, or a selfie snapped among love locks is a sign that life doesn’t just go on; it becomes even more meaningful…

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…sort of like a city I know.

*For daily photo posts be sure to follow @french_frye_in_paris on Instagram. And don’t forget to click the tab at the top to request a private guided tour with yours truly!

42 comments

  • Merci Corey, ça me donne grand plaisir de savoir que la vie soit retournée au normale à Paris.

  • What a gorgeous, moving post. Everything about it: your evocative writing, the lovely moments you captured, and your beautiful photos. With a love letter like this, Paris can’t help but love you back.

  • Ditto HMUNRO, above. I could not say it any better. We have stayed on Ile St. Louis many times, but never in this season. You have let us see it anew.

  • I’m with Wanda. Stayed on Ile Ste. Louis for 10 glorious days. My heart aches to return. It is magical! Thank you so much.

  • Beautifully written, hope to get to France and Paris especially for my birthday next year, maybe I should look you up for a walking tour with my husband!!

    • Hi Andrea, please do, I’d love to show you Paris through my eyes. Tell your husband you deserve the City of Light! 😊 Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Take care.

  • Oh Corey! One of our most favourite places that you took us to! Do you know – we are now active flaneur erers- it is that small part of Paris that you have given to us to take around the world.

    I love your articles. It keeps our connection with such a beautiful place going. Xxx

  • I love your blog. Paris as it was is i know mostly gone in some areas. However, like you do strolls, walks and looking you are bringing what was back. Have a great evening.

    • Thanks Lucy, it’s true that the city changes rapidly in certain ways. Even more reason to enjoy the stuff that has stayed the same! Take care and thank you for reading.

  • Thank you Corey! Your posts always bring me such pleasure in savoring my favorite city. Can’t wait for my trip in February where I too will be a flaneur in Paris again.

    • Yay Joyce, that’s right around the corner! And if the weather continues like it has been, you’re in for some comfortably mild temps. Be sure to let me know if you’d like info on my guided tours, or even if you’d just like to meet for a coffee while you’re in town. Happy Paris dreaming! 😊

  • and thankfully the love locks are mostly gone now…..I still wouldnt feature them in a photo

  • Hi Corey! I just discovered your blog through a like you gave to one of my pictures on IG (thank you for that!) and I must say it’s inspiring!!! You just won a fan!!! Thank you for such amazing writing and beautiful pictures!

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad to add you as a reader and look forward to following your IG feed. If you ever have friends coming to Paris and looking for a guided tour, send them my way if you like! Take care.

  • We rent an apt. on the Ile St. Louis for several weeks every year. Paris is my second home (I live in NYC full time), and flan-neuring along the St, Louis Seine walkways, watching the parade of swans and ducks, the HALO Gendarmes diving in the Seine, the locals catching fish (and throwing them back) every day. Meandering across the Pont L’Archeveche is part of my daily agenda, and I can’t wait until those touristic, hideous “love locks” are removed this year. Can’t wait to get back “home” in November!

    • So nice to hear about your little island routine Paton! What a treat it must be to revisit each year, finding a mix of familiar haunts as well as some new discoveries. Next time you’re in town please drop me a line, we can either do some touring together or at least meet up for some good coffee. Take care!

  • Corey – I am also a Paris lover, always looking forward to my next visit. I really love reading your pieces, seeing the photos and feeling your love of The City. As we all were, I’very been horrified and saddened by attacks on Paris and its residents but greatly heartened by Parisians’ resolve, strength and solidarity. Thanks for sharing your observations of such a beautiful, magical place.

    • My pleasure Susan, and thank YOU for leaving such a lovely comment. Paris will bounce back, I’m sure of it. It’s not the first time in her history she’s had to fight through tough times. Take care and happy Paris dreaming!

    • Well thank you Maria. I know there are plenty of you out there who are enchanted as I am by this city, so I’m happy to help share a bit of it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. 😊

    • Thanks so much Riz, you made my morning! If you’re on Instagram or FB you may want to follow me. I post pictures there daily. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  • Bonjour Corey! Quel bonheur de vous avoir rencontré chez Chartier quand vous avez partagé notre table à Jeanine et moi. J’ai lu votre critique de l’expo Oscar Wilde avec un grand intérêt et j’y suis allé hier , …avec la fille de Jeanine. C’était vraiment très éclairant!
    Si vous avez un petit moment nous pouvons avoir un café ou un déjeuner ensemble quelque part. Jeanine est rentrée à Montpellier mais je suis toujours Parisien, plus que jamais!
    Meilleures pensées
    David Watson, l’ Anglais francophile

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