During a recent family vacances au Colorado, I was asked this question about Paris.
To be fair, I think the person who asked me has never been there. I joined in his conversation with another (male) family member about Italy and France, and I was
probably the person who brought up the idea of romance. But when he asked the question, I was speechless at first. What was the answer, and how could he not know it?
I started to say something about the history, museums and art, and then
he they quickly seemed to believe that it was that simple, and didn’t let me explique.* Non, messieurs! C’est pas vrai!
Because I’m an esprit de l’escalier** kind of woman, and a list-maker, I thought about it later, and here is the réponse I might have given:
1. It’s not just the art and history; it’s their relationship – their connection – to the people, and to the city. It’s something tout à fait français – absolutely French – and something you just feel. New York City and Washington D.C. have a lot of museums and history, but I don’t find either place particularly romantic. For other reasons, I really, really like them, though.
2. It’s the streets, the restaurants, the gardens and the neighborhoods of Paris…and it’s les français (the French) themselves. What (American) woman doesn’t know that Frenchmen are (normalement) très romantique?
3. It’s La Seine, the river that runs through Paris! A body of water*** (whether sea or river) at sunset or later, makes everything more intimate. How? Je ne sais pas.
4. It’s l’amour – love. It’s in the air in Paris, whether you’ve just discovered one another, or are rediscovering…Trust me.
Enfin, the “comment:” Another (short) conversation came up about becoming fluent in French, and someone (who doesn’t speak a foreign language) asserted that “you have to live there.”
Hmm. I diligently studied the language, il y a longtemps et récemment, lived in France for a year as a student, and now I practice and speak it autant que possible. I’d love to live there again un jour, but in the meantime, I’m going to continue speaking it and improving my fluency. C’est possible, madame!
Sunrise at a beach on the Atlantic in Florida earlier this year
* With over thirty members of the famille converging in two cabins in the Rockies for a week, it was hard to finish your sentences without being interrupted (and I’m just a belle-fille et belle-soeur – much nicer sounding than
“outlaw” daughter- and sister-in-law)
** See my post L’esprit de l’escalier, spiral staircases and faux-amis
*** While there’s romance in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, there’s more water than romance in my upcoming Suspense novel…. More later!