Nous adorons Paris.
It's true: We love Paris. For so many of us growing up, Paris was the first dazzling foreign city we dreamed of exploring (our Paris editor tells the story of how her dream of visiting Paris ultimately led to her becoming one of Paris' expats). And as we reeled from the shock of the Nov. 13 attacks, Where editors from around the world wrote in with their memories from trips to Paris—which we are proud to share below.
As the Where team, we stand with Paris, and we will return again and again and again. Today, nous sommes tous Parisiens. We are all Parisians.
Paris at 20
"I visited Paris for three days while on a whirlwind, week-long tour through London, Paris and Rome in 2007. I was 20, it was my first time in Europe, and I found myself awestruck at every turn. The city shimmers at night—with lights reflecting off of the Seine, and the magnificently glowing Eiffel Tower. My favorite meal of the entire trip was a pasta dish from a quaint cafe with a patio situated in a picturesque Parisian courtyard. Amidst the hustle and bustle of today’s city life, I felt a historic essence and sense of peace in Paris—the last of which I wholeheartedly hope returns to the wonderful city."
—Kimberly Gunning, Phoenix; associate editor for Where Phoenix-Scottsdale
From London With Love
"I stayed on the same street as Le Petit Cambodge restaurant—one of sites of the recent terrorist attacks—on my last visit to Paris. What struck me about the area was its buzzing atmosphere; on a warm night, young people were sitting on the banks of the canal chatting with friends and sharing a bottle of wine or picnic. I'd been to Paris several times before so I'd seen the big sights; for me that trip was all about soaking up the atmosphere of Paris—and Canal St Martin had bags of it."
—Sarah Riches, London; deputy editor for Where London
I’ll Always Have Paris
"I have many ties to Paris: emotional, familial, sentimental, educational. I’ve visited at least a dozen times, but probably my favorite memory was the year my son, who is half-French, turned 8.
"We reached Paris in the afternoon on Bastille Day (or la Fête Nationale, as it’s called in France) just in time to watch soldiers, tanks, a military band and then-president François Mitterrand himself parading down the Champs Elysées. That evening around 9 pm we left our hotel room and were instantly caught up in a wave of people all heading in one direction. It was as if everyone in Paris had a common destination: the Eiffel Tower.
"We arrived at the Champ de Mars where thousands of people had gathered. This was joie de vivre central, an international party where language was no barrier, where each person's expression seemed to say, "Isn't it a beautiful evening? Isn't it great to be in Paris? Isn't it wonderful just to be?" At 11 pm the tower suddenly went dark as the sky around it exploded into brilliant color and the finale to Stravinsky’s “Firebird” filled the air. It was the most spectacular fireworks show I have ever seen—or maybe it just seemed that way because it was Paris."
—Margaret Martin, Los Angeles; senior regional editorial director for Where
"I’ve been to Paris twice, first with my family when I was about 14, when the four of us stayed in the tiniest little room in the sweetest little hotel where we had to take baths, because there was no shower. But it was charming to the point of storybook, and each morning, we were greeted with fresh croissants and jam. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better croissant.
"After graduating high school, my best friend and I joined a month-long tour group through Europe, which included several days in Paris. It was a different experience roaming the streets and seeing the sights without a parent there, and I remember feeling so carefree and all of us vowing to come back when we were married. I still plan to do that one day."
—Elisa Drake, Chicago; editor for Where Chicago
A Year Abroad
"In 1988, I spent six weeks in Paris as a prequel to my junior year abroad in the south of France. When I think back on that time, what I remember most is the feeling of wonder. The city seemed impossibly cool, chic and beautiful—and I hoped just a bit of it would rub off on me. With my questionable French skills and definitely dowdy attire, I roamed the streets marveling at the soaring towers of Notre Dame and the miniature sailboats in Luxembourg Garden. I couldn’t believe the lightning speed at which the street artists of Montmartre painted portraits or the somber grace of the graves at Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Even the tiniest things seemed amazing: at Monoprix, washed lettuce sold in bags (what an ingenious idea!) and at Chez Les Fondus, red wine served in baby bottles (so edgy!). Over the years since then, I’ve been lucky enough to return and become captivated all over again."
—Brooke Sabin, Washington, D.C.; editor of Where Washington D.C.
Paris Is Still in My Dreams
"My perfect day in Paris is food-filled, and starts with the world’s best coffee and banana bread at Café Coutume. After that I’ll meander through Jardin du Luxembourg and over the bridge towards the Marais. If it’s sunny, I’ll brave the queue for Berthillon ice cream on the Ile Saint-Louis—I love the chatter of those waiting, who refer to flavours like they’re old friends. For lunch, it has to be the Marché des Enfants Rouges food stalls, or the English-speaking Rose Bakery (if I've inflicted enough Franglais on the city for one day). After rummaging through vintage treasures in Kiliwatch, I’ll head in search of some art.
"The Palais de Tokyo must be the only art gallery in the world that I don’t check the listings for—I just go—because it’s always wildly good. Whatever the season, I’ll get there just before sunset and sit in the adjacent terrace with a glass of Provence rosé, and I’ll watch the light change as the gallery empties with people who don’t realise it’s open until midnight. The last time I visited, half the gallery was filled with water, forcing us to view the art by boat!
"I never pack a pair of heels when I visit Paris because few places are so fun to explore by foot. It’s not just the sights and the scenery; it’s the people, for whom the streets seem like corridors in one big beautiful house. Maybe it’s because the apartments are so tiny—but where else in the world do you see so much life on the streets? From the terraces to the riverbanks and parks, every outdoor space is another living room; a place for music, food, art and intense debate. And every greeting is a cloud of kisses! No wonder they say Paris has a joie de vivre."
—Sam Rogg, London; associate editor of Where London
"Quand je pense à Paris, I think of a New Year’s Eve a lifetime ago: Bizet’s 'Carmen' at the Palais Garnier and midnight on the Champs-Élysées. Quel spectacle. Not crazy crowded like Times Square, but a promenade. Civilized."
—Francis Lewis, New York; managing editor of Where New York
Photo credits from top: City at dusk (©anshar/Shutterstock); River Seine (©Matthew Dixon); river bank (©anshar/Shutterstock); fireworks at the Eiffel Tower (©Sergii Rudiuk/Shutterstock); Montmartre steps (©Ivan Bastien/Shutterstock); Paris visitors (©Brooke Sabin); street scene (©anshar/Shutterstock); Luxembourg Garden (©Marcin Krzyzak/Shutterstock); Champs-Élysées (©lotsostock/Shutterstock)