I'm tired of living in Paris.This city is too predictable

Paris is one of the most visited cities on earth, but after more than a decade spent exploring this historical wonder, it was time to move on.

November 24, 2023 1:13pm(Has been updated 5:13pm)

In a bar on Paris' Faubourg Saint-Antoine, one man chats to everyone on a first-name basis every evening until late into the night, while a bakery a few blocks away on Rue Lande-Rollin consistently produces the best gougères (cheese-filled pastries) in the neighborhood and draws crowds of locals.

Almost every day, hundreds of vendors set up stalls, displaying fresh fruit and vegetables and shouting promotions to shoppers on Arigul Street, where I sell blueberries for €5 a kilogram.

Gravediggers hang like flies from the walls of a dive bar a few streets away. The neighborhood has always been proudly melancholic, creative, rocking and predictable.

That's why I love Paris – and that's why I left Paris.

When I first told people I was moving to Marseille, the most common response was, “I never thought I'd leave Paris!” And I really didn't think I'd do that either. Paris has been a special embodiment of home for the past 12 years, in part because it was the home that was chosen and built.

I felt like I could walk down the street with my eyes closed, knowing exactly where the sidewalk would lean or when the light would turn red. For years, this felt so comfortable that I could drift around the city in a kind of dream-like trance. Getting home is easy.

The city is known for its creative spirit, but some people are clinging to the past (Photo: Federico Chicco Dodi/Getty Images)
The city is known for its creative spirit, but some people are clinging to the past (Photo: Federico Chicco Dodi/Getty)

But a year and a half ago, that comfort started to feel too good. She began to feel suffocated in this small village-like place in District 11. Predictability and reliability became limited. I longed for change and began to feel guilty about it. Paris did nothing wrong, it was exactly as it should be. That's why Paris remains one of the most visited cities on earth.

Then I went to Marseille. I was nervous. Marseille is a city facing change. At least in the city center. The air is palpably lively. My friends and I often joke that it's hilarious chaos here. For some, it's too much. You can't walk through this city with your eyes closed without bumping into something or someone at any moment. I can't shake the idea of ​​living in Marseille.

There were practical reasons to move too – cost of living, jobs, cost of sea – my close friends and I decided to leave as a kind of unit, and that decision was very easy and enjoyable.

That doesn't mean Paris doesn't change. I watched as the banks of the Seine were transformed from highways into open-air parks, and I saw hundreds of people dipping their toes in the water, bottles in hand, where cars once revved. I saw bike lanes and trees grow, natural wine boom, trash cans burn during the Gilets Jaunes movement and later the pension reform movement. I watched Notre-Dame burn, heard the spire collapse and watched firefighters spray the church with water.

A former neighbor asked me if I missed Paris. I replied that it was complicated. “Like an old lover?” he asked. I was reminded of the line from Simon and Garfunkel's song “April Come She Will'': “Love was once new, but now it's old.''

The spirit of the city is its most distinctive part: cafe terraces, poetry nights and afternoons spent overlooking the Seine. That's what drew me to it and what made me leave. And Paris will always be ours.

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