We talk about moving back to Europe, sometimes, when we miss Paris. Another move to Paris is an impossibility - our lack of European Union passports and specialised technical skills means that we can only get visas if we can prove that we are independently wealthy (which, although we work hard and spend carefully, we most certainly are not) or to convince two employers to hire us despite all of the extra taxes that would be imposed on them for hiring foreigners. We understand this and have, for the most part, accepted it. And so we talk about places like Berlin, and London; cities we have visited, where we have been happy, where we might stand a chance of eventually qualifying for residency. We reason that proximity to Paris would make the challenges of expat life, which we have experienced before and are all too familiar with, worthwhile. And then we go back to Paris and we realise, for what must be the thousandth time, how wrong we are (or perhaps, how much we have lied to ourselves.) There is nowhere in the world like Paris. That statement has been made so often that it has become cliche, but like most cliches, while the sentiment isn't original, it is true. From the grand Haussmanian boulevards to the lovingly conserved vintage store fronts; the flaky croissants and dark coffees served on round tables outside of cafes (because one of the greatest Parisian pleasures is to sit outside at a cafe for hours, lingering over a drink, a good conversation and, if it suits you, a cigarette); the museums, some of which are breathtaking and some of which are so dull, they could practically bring you to tears, all of which are beloved, and the bookstores, almost all of which are crowded because Parisians still buy real books, they are not convinced that a Kindle would be better and frankly, I am inclined to agree with them. I could write volumes on the crisp baguettes, the creamy, indulgent butters and cheeses, the wines (and how the ones with the most unassuming labels are usually best); the perfumeries, the meticulously groomed parks that are perfect for summer picnicking and even, even, the absurdly bureaucratic, utterly infuriating but always affordable post office. I could tell you everything, but the truth is, you have to experience the city for yourself to really understand what Jules Renard meant when he compared the city to paradise. Like anywhere in the world, Paris isn't perfect – everything is expensive, apartments are hard to come by and forget drinking the tap water, you’ll quickly realize why the bottled stuff is so cheap in the grocery store. But those imperfections have a certain charm to them, too, because they are part of what makes Paris the place that it is. And once it’s in your heart, it’s there forever.
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