“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter, and there were no more tops to the high white houses as you walked but only the wet blackness of the street and the closed doors of the small shops, the herb sellers, the stationary and newspaper shops, the midwife— second class—and the hotel where Verlaine had died where I had a room on the top floor where I worked.” -Ernest Hemingway
What is it about Paris that moves it to the top of so many travel wish lists? I confess it is on mine, but I doubt I’ll be getting there very soon.
Paris has many of those essential elements to be a romantic and rewarding city. It’s located on the water, the river Seine, which you’ll find is a common prerequisite for many capital cities. Paris also has art, architecture, rich history, and a smattering of green space: all the important necessities that a poet or a painter might desire.
For me, of course, the allure is literary. One of my favorite books is Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. It is probably the book that has given me unreachable expectations about life as both a writer and ex-pat; a life ruining sort of book, if you will. It’s one of the finest memoirs and pieces of travel writing I’ve ever read. I can’t help but harbor romantic ideas about writing a masterpiece in a Parisian cafe.
One must wonder if there are certain places that are inherently inspirational. There are places where artists over the years have found a haven where they can congregate and work. I hope someday to test this theory in Paris for myself. Among my peer group of English students and writers, I find I am not the only one who has these hopes for Paris. Perhaps someday we’ll see if it lives up to our expectations, see if it inspires our greatest words.