A close friend of mine is about to head off to one of my favorite cities in the world. But he only has three days to spend it in. So he writes me and asks:

Is three days in Paris worth it?

My answer? Any time in Paris is worth it.

Loving Paris is probably the most unoriginal thing an artist could do. But I loved it long before I ever was an artist – and definitely long after. I was conscious of it as a child – this supreme fascination of a city I had only seen in the glossy pages of magazines and inside dusty history books. I saw a black and white photo of Kate Moss in a Parisian cafe and was never the same after. 

Kate Moss, 1990. Shot by Kate Garner.

Maybe it was because I was positive I had lived there in a past life – if I had to guess, the 1920s amongst the American expats like Hemingway and Stein. Maybe because my favorite film of all times (The Dreamers) takes place in it. Maybe because my homeland used to be a French occupied colony. I’ve always thought of Saigon as a grungier, messier Paris – some streets are cobblestone, the motorbikes are aplenty, it’s culturally expected for you to smoke, the Vietnamese banh mi is served on a French baguette, and there’s even a replica of the Notre Dame. 

The truth of the matter is; Paris gets me. From the effortless well-dressed people to the copious amounts of wine consumed, to the small shops opened to the wee hours of the morning, to the sexual liberation; it just all made sense. I grew up a stranger in a strange land. And even as a child, entrenched in a small community that spoke the same language as my native homeland – I’ve never quite felt like I belonged much. But I felt it in Paris.

To date, this remains the only city other than Saigon that I’ve returned to numerous times. So Paris, here’s to you. If New York is my sister, you are my soulmate. 

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