Friday, June 1, 2012

What IS it About Paris?

As you may have deduced from the cover, a large chunk of Fashioning a Romance takes place in Paris. I didn’t know I’d send my characters there when I first started writing the story, but I needed to get them out of London and the City of Love seemed like the obvious destination. Paris truly is the most romantic city in the world. Well… it’s the most romantic city I’ve ever been to.

I must admit, I wasn’t all that stoked about going there my first time. Confession time: don’t laugh but… I think I’d seen Peewee’s Big Adventure one too many times and if you recall, the waitress Peewee encounters is obsessed with Paris. And as I got older I came across other (non-fictional) people who were obsessed with Paris. To me, Paris seemed like a cliché sort of place, so it wasn’t high on my list of cities I wanted to visit. But a few years ago when my mom and sister planned a trip there, I decided on a whim to tag along. It was pre-9/11 when flights were dirt-cheap and I flew from NYC to Paris for around $300 if memory serves. And the moment I arrived, I was utterly besotted.

But why? What is it about this city that enchants us so? In Fashioning a Romance, Caitlyn wonders the very same thing as she goes for a solitary stroll along the Seine. Her theory is that because so many people visit Paris when they’re already feeling romantic – like for honeymoons or just sweet romantic weekends – the city is constantly pulsating with amorous vibes. That it’s the people who populate Paris at any given moment who make it romantic, rather than the city itself.

Perhaps. Then again the beauty of the place (the gorgeous stonework, the gold-leaf bridges, the hidden narrow lanes and unexpected statues dotted everywhere) could have something to do with it, as could the relaxed and unhurried atmosphere.

The truth is: there is no correct answer, I’m afraid. Thirza Vallois, author of Romantic Paris writes,

“For decades I tried to figure out why Paris is shrouded in such mystique. Granted, walks at night along the Seine are enchanting, but that alone cannot explain why the very mention of Paris has always conjured up tales of romance, well before it was blessed with gas or electricity, well before its exquisitely lit street-corners were replicated the world over in black-and-white print. After all, medieval Paris was a dark den of filth, reeking with nauseous stench, and the two sinister prison fortresses that jutted out of its skyline could hardly have been conducive to romance. Not to mention the 32 rotting corpses dangling in the offing when the royal gallows was used to full capacity. Yet the myth has been perpetuated for a good thousand years.

“I racked my brains, I dug into the past, I travelled into my own psyche looking for an answer, but I came back empty-handed. There simply is no answer. There lies the beauty of the enigma. Paris is poetry, Paris is mystery, Paris is beauty – an exasperating decoy that never quite delivers, all the more compelling for its imperfection, the archetypal reservoir of all our passions.”

Cool, huh?



  1. Love this post Libby. I agree - Paris is mysteriously romantic. It just IS romance. I love it. Can't wait to take a trip back! :)

  2. Great post. I've never been to Paris but everyone says it is so romantic. I'll have to make a point to visit someday.

  3. Thanks ladies! I love it too, Juliette. And you most definitely must go sometime, Janna. I really want to find myself a sweetheart first before I revisit the city because it would just be so cool to have THAT experience. :-)

  4. Great post, Libby. I have never been but it's on the list.

  5. Thanks Eleni! Definitely a good city for the list.