11 May 2014

Paris Versus New York

Home… isn’t that the most wonderful place on earth?

I’m back in London with my mind on France… and as much as I adore to move, I’m happy to rest.

Paris Versus New York - Cafe de Flore- Vicki Archer

Inevitably I thought about the differences between the major cities when I was on my travels… especially those of New York and Paris.

Both major, important and stimulating cities… but for very different reasons.

New York is edgy, bold and frenetic… moving at a rapid speed… always forwards. There is no still in New York… no feeling of calm… The energy is palpable, infectious.

That’s why we all love it so… the reason for a New York injection from time to time… An urban therapy.

 

Paris on the other hand is classic, gentle… soft… and very firmly entrenched in the past.

For me, Paris meanders along at her own pace… I slip in and glide along with her.

In New York I play catch up… moving along with the crowd, thrilled to be involved in the chase.

Paris Versus New York , Cafe de Flore - Vicki Archer

In both cities I spend my time looking upwards.

New York is all skyscrapers, shadows and reflections… Sharp angles and hard edges. Innovative and experimental.

How high can they fly? What engineering feats will be mastered?

Even the low rise, the older and more historical centres of the city have a sharpness to them… external staircases that drop in an orderly fashion… blocks of red brick buildings lined up in uniform manner.

Paris Versus New York - Vicki Archer

In Paris, the tall are far away and while the centre of the city is very orderly there is a softness to the architecture.

A femininity to Haussmann that slows the city down.

Much like the female presence in the family… softness quietens us all. Keeps us in check.

New York rises above… Paris wraps herself around us.

Paris Versus New York , Cafe de Flore - Vicki Archer

And what about the New Yorker?

I adore the can do, will do, must do attitude of the locals.

New Yorkers live with such purpose… as if every day is a new beginning with fresh drive and increased ambition.

They move purposefully, they dress purposefully… there appears little extravagance.

Black reigns supreme, accessories are minimal.

Street style is their elegance. Comfort is their chic.

Coffee is to go.

 

The Parisian is so different… from my observations.

They meander, nothing interrupts le petit dejeuner or lunch.

Nourishment is social and very rarely on the run.

It’s a broad statement but in my experience, life comes before work.

Fashion before practicality.

Most Parisians are not itinerant… they belong to their city and the city belongs to them.

Paris Versus New York Tuilerie Gardens - Vicki Archer

New York and Paris are walking cities, they are visual extravaganzas.

There is so much to see, to learn and to experience… there will never be enough in one lifetime.

Both are magical places…  with the flick of their wands they transport us.

Into the future and back in time.

 

New York, you are steely and bright… decisive. Paris you are muted, filtered and deliberate.

 

Do I have a favourite city… No.

That’s like asking which one of my children do I love more.

Impossible… there is no such thing.

Am I closer to one city than the other… Yes.

Paris, she is more familiar. I know and understand her better. We are more accustomed to each other.

 

Tell me … the differences between the cities?  Are you a Paris or a New York kind of woman? xv

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75 Comments

une femme

I think you’ve really captured the essence of each city beautifully. I love both, and would probably favor Paris, only because of the slowing down, the stopping to savor, the focus on pleasure and balance. I think in the long run it’s a healthier attitude.

Reply
Vicki

There is a focus on pleasure and balance… so true, Susan… I hope you are having a wonderful time in Paris… xv

Reply
Anita Rivera

Je suis parisienne, all the way. We almost lived there while ruben was considering Columbia University. But we both decided we could nkt live there. We certainly love to go for fun, to get that shot of bustli g humanity, but we both agree that paris is our town. This was such a rich read today vicki. Have a glorious day back in london. Anita

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Vicki

Bustling always in New York… it is so true, Anita… the city that never sleeps… or naps!

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Stormy Smith

You are correct. A trip into New York is energizing and stimulating. A trip across the pond to Paris is like meeting your best friend for a long, leisurely lunch complete with a bottle of champagne. Both are beautiful cities and both fulfil a great need in me.

Reply
Vicki

Paris is a long leisurely lunch… for sure… A great description, Stormy… :)

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Candice

Being a New Yorker is exhausting, it is a life of Catching Up. On films, work, fashions, where to eat, where to shop, where to go …. it is all too much .
It is a lovely place to visit but Paris would be the place I would land and stay if I could.
( if anyone can think of a way to convince the young’uns to come live with me, let me know, we will go to Paris all together :)

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Vicki

It’s many years since I have been to SF… my memories are very fond…maybe it’s time for a west coast visit… :)

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Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Yes, with a drive up the Pacific coast on US 101…all the way (with a dash slightly inland to Portland and a stop in Seattle and the San Juan Islands) to Vancouver or Victoria, B.C.! (Enthralling country, and Portland has a very lively French and Francophile community.) Add Boston and you could write an essay comparing Boston and San Francisco. Hopefully, Leslie

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Penelope

Just spent several day in Paris with friends. Paris has a unique beauty all it’s own but I prefer New York because it is a city filled with good things for my kids who have lives there off and on! It incorporates people from everywhere and embraces people from all over the world! My father in law came through Ellis Island in 1912 and for our family, it will always be a special place! Both….are amazing places for sure!

Reply
Vicki

Wherever our children are…will always be where we love…
What a fantastic family history Penelope… I can understand why NY holds such an important and special place …

Reply
Janice @ Curtains In My Tree

I am going to New York City for the first time this summer, 12 packed days of going and shopping and eating, and I am a senior 60 plus
I do wish my friend had planned a couple soft quite days for us
I can only dream of Paris which I am sure I would like better from your description

Reply
Vicki

You will adore it Janice… and the energy is so catching… you won’t want any soft days!

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Candice

There are parks all over the city, small ones, Central Park is huge .. little squares here and there, so when you see a park bench , sit down and have a quiet moment. Go to the Museum of Modern Art. There are many places to sit down and look at the art, there is an outdoor area too .. In Summer, wherever they can, they open outdoor cafes, outdoor seating on sidewalks.. sit and for the price of a drink and a sandwich, you have the best view of NYC .. from a comfy seat :)
I agree re: Paris .

Reply
Cathy C

New York is the cool girl who acknowledges you but keeps you out of her inner circle. Paris is the pretty girl and we feel prettier just by being with her.

Reply
Vicki

Yes… the cool girl is always the one we want to follow… but it’s the pretty one who makes us feel special… :)

Reply
Maite

Having lived for several years in each, I must say I prefer Washington DC anytime.

Reply
Vicki

I visited Washington DC many times some years back… lucky to travel on husband’s business tails… we loved it… So dynamic and exciting… all that White House/Capitol energy circulating around… :)

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Rita C. (Panoply)

I love reading everyone’s descriptive twists on the two cities. Although I have never been to Paris, it is my dream vacation destination (once hubby fully retires). I have been to NYC several times, and it feels very much the way I used to be all the time – type E – everything to everybody – and that’s probably why so many New Yorkers buy property in the surrounding suburbs and countrysides. I believe once I get to Paris, it will feel wonderful – perhaps a wiser choice for a woman (and her man) of a certain age – to be able to relish its leisurely, languid pace. I’m so happy not to feel the need to be high-strung and fast-paced anymore, only when I choose to be. :)

Reply
Vicki

It could very well be a question of age… but I still enjoy both but there is something about Paris… I think it’s the visuals… and the language…

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Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Each time I travel to NYC to share a few days with our 29-year-old son, who lives there, it takes one or two days for me to adjust to the fast pace and cacophony of the city. After that, however, I glory in it (even though I would not choose to live there again). For me, Paris requires a different sort of adjustment, but an adjustment just the same. (I work so hard to speak French and take in everything French.) I love both cities!

Reply
Vicki

I have a silly little personal rule in paris… I make myself speak French… even when a lot of Parisians will respond in English… but I forge on… it’s great for my French and I do believe they appreciate my attempts ultimately… ;)
Adjustment… very true… all cities require a different mind set.

Reply
SUSAN, CORLETTE

Hi Vickii,
Paris is my favourite city, wish I had done what you did………buy a Mass in France……not to worry I will be there next year…..
Loved New York, the pace and excitement.. and then we went to East Hampton, wow!!!
I could live there sooo easily
so 6 mths in each……Paris/Hamptons…..
we can always dream,
cheers.
Susan

Reply
Vicki

Next year I want to visit the Hamptons… I have wanted to for years… they sounds so beautiful…

Reply
Esther George

Hi Vicki firstly there was never a right time to travel for me and now I’m unable to but I do watch travel shows and the past few weeks I have been watching a show called French Food Safari (Australian production) it takes you to different areas of France and their food markets and I have realised some cities you can travel to and stay a week or two but France you need to stay for as long as you can there is too much to see and experience. There was another Aust. Production last night and I was taken to Alsace I have been told you need to experience Christmas in Alsace. I do love New York for its architecture and of course Central Park Your photographs have been absolutely beautiful and I thank you for taking the time to share beauty. Till next time Regards Esther from Sydney. PS have a wonderful Mothers Day.

Reply
Vicki

Thank you Esther… I wish I could post more images but I think you would all get sick of them!

Reply
Renee

Awww I, love them all but, I live near my “city by the Bay”…San Francisco. Today, it was quite overcast and grey…looked so serene, just beautiful.

Reply
Ruthie

Paris will always have my heart. She’s my secret love affair and we meet up often . . . x

Reply
Vicki

I love that analogy, Ruthie… :)
I think she might be playing around… ;) ;)

Reply
Sally

Paris….je suis enchante…my heart beats a little faster to think of it

but London.. I have actually lived, loved, laughed and learned there..and I miss it all the time :)

Enjoy your restful weekend Vicki

Reply
Justine

I’m spending the month of May in Paris and I’ll keep coming back until October, so maybe it’s because it’s so close to my mind now, but I’d take Paris over NYC. Not sure what I’d do if the choice was between Paris and London!

Reply
Vicki

Paris and London are so close now with the fast train… that it doesn’t count… we don’t have to choose…
They are close neighbours… and have their differences but couldn’t live without each other… ;)

Reply
Dana

In Paris I feel as I am thriving, whereas in NYC it is more like surviving. Paris anyday!

Reply
Vicki

Surviving v’s thriving… a great idea for another post… Thanks Dana… :)

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Peggy Braswell

well, NY is where my son lives so although I love Paris(what is not to love?)+ I think I will go with NY because he is there with his family + Love London also. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Reply
Hallie

Oh how I love those photos and you have captured both cities so well! Paris is a walking poem, each word- each moment is for savoring. New York is its own roman candle- ignition (morning) – fire (afternoon) burning through the atmosphere (evening) and again all over the very next day. It’s exhausting and invigorating yet when we need sanity, love, beauty, meandering, art, atmosphere- we have Paris.
thank you as always

Reply
Vicki

It is such a privilege to travel and to see the world’s great cities… I love nothing more than snapping away… all day, every day… Each time I see more and learn more…
Hearing all your thoughts makes the experience even richer…

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Heather in Arles

I lived in NYC from ages 17 to 32….so which city do you think I am going to pick? ;) I miss it so. And it is funny because I feel calm there. Far more so than in Paris because anything seems possible and it so often is…
Bon Weekend!

Reply
Vicki

I know it’s home for you Heather… it’s time you re-visited and gave us your insights… :)

Reply
Keri | Ivy Clad

Lovely piece, Vicki, and so right-on. I think your insights about New York & the New Yorker could also be applied widely to the general American population, particularly in the cities. I’m not a New Yorker, but I live that hurried, staying ahead, catching up sort of pace. And THAT constant exhausting output of energy is why, I believe, many, many Americans readily proclaim a love for France & all things French (and English, too, for that matter). We perceive France as that gentle embrace that you describe– a lifestyle complete with the style that we love but without the chaos. Yet somehow, we are inextricably tied to our drive for productivity & advancement, & so we continue to exult in French style, feeling that a little taste of Paris will somehow ease our frinetic pace.

I enjoyed this post so much!

Reply
Vicki

Thank you Keri…
It’s how I see the day to day goings on… Perhaps it’s about national characteristic as opposed to city… Wonderful observation… :)

Reply
Kelly

Thank you for pinpointing so perfectly the differences between the two. For me, New York takes a kind of daring and drive to flourish there, but Paris invites a different kind of energy, perhaps a deeper self-confidence and a greater feeling of being at home in oneself. I’d choose Paris any day!

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Sandy @ You May Be Wandering

What a perfect post, Vicki! Having lived in the NYC area for 30 years, and being a Paris lover, I think you absolutely nailed the comparison! I love both cities in their own way, but my heart will always be in Paris! Have a fabulous weekend! xoxo

Reply
Alix

Hey!
Living in Miami for 9 years now I’m still missing Paris my hometown. A soooo beautiful and charming city despite the Parisians!!!
Thank you for sharing.
Cheers
Alix

Reply
Vicki

I love the Parisians… :) Sometimes they can be a little grumpy… but I forgive them… they have to have something to complain about… It’s not easy living in all that beauty… ;)
Actually in all the years I have been visiting Paris I have only ever met very kind and pleasant people… I am biased though… ;)

Reply
Christina

You captured the spirit of both cities so perfectly- I agree if cities had genders Paris would be feminine-the abundance of flowers and color and grace of the architecture- I adore both cities- New york gives you that b 12shot like energy boost but if i was to stay somewhere a while I’d choose the gentler Paris

Reply
D. A. Wolf

What a delicious post. As much as I love NYC, it’s Paris je t’aime. Has been since I first set foot there and felt it suited, when I was 15.

The art?

That would be another interesting comparison. Both cities over exceptional treasure on that score.

Les hommes?

:-)

Autre histoire.

Reply
LaVera

I have lived in both cities, I think your blog today is right on. I also couldn’t choose between my two children.

Reply
suzanna

yes Vicki, that is NYC, I would prefer France no doubt, I like that feeling and not the chaotic feeling of rush rush rush of NYC…..(food and shopping is good) never the less, France is my cup of tea……..my dream to come there……live and work there…….;-))) xo

Reply
Heather LIndstrom

I think you’ve created the perfect comparison of these magnificent cities, Vicki. Each unique and inspiring, I have to get my fix every few years. It’s about the energy for me-bold and vibrant in New York City and softer, more romantic and etched with history in Paris. I love them both but it’s Paris for me if I had to make a choice.
Happy Sunday!
xx, Heather

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The Enchanted Home

Two of my favorite cities…whats not to love! You did a brilliant job of describing them, right on the money! Paris though I have to admit is my one true love….ahh to live there for a short extended time is absolutely on my bucket list!

Wishing you an amazing Mothers Day, may it be filled with much joy, love and laughter!

Reply
rosemary

I am for sure a NY woman, visit a few times a month. Have never been to Paris but it is on my bucket list for sure and am anxious to see it in person. Great post here and I think you touched on very true points indeed. Lovely blog!!

Reply

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