“You can teach someone structure and how to write a lead, but you can’t teach them how to notice the right things.”
– Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair
I believe that among writers, poets have a particularly unique way of recognizing and experiencing things. Call it an innate sense of reverie perhaps, but those who love poetry often find themselves captivated by the simplest object, image, or place, using such symbols as a way to capture or process emotions.
This is what I discovered on my first trip to Paris at the age of eleven, as a budding poet. Perched at the window of our hotel room, I gazed out into the night at the glowing, golden dome of Les Invalides as I spilled my ideas into my journal… And it was then that I knew I’d found where I belonged. Fast-forward a few years, and I had a one-way ticket to Paris, determined to build my life here.
Paris has served as a beacon and an inspiration. Observing and exploring the city has allowed me to examine my most deeply rooted thoughts, questions, hopes and fears, pouring them onto the page before me. It’s what even led to the creation of my most recent book, Brushstrokes, a collection of poems and prose that tells the story of a beautiful, passionate, yet tumultuous relationship that serves as the catalyst for a journey of healing, growth and self-discovery.
Of course, I’m not alone. All throughout history, Paris has drawn painters, writers, philosophers and the like from across the globe. The City of Light has become a haven for visionaries and free-thinkers. Whether in the literary salons of Gertrude Stein or the bustling terrace of the Café de Flore, they would assemble to discuss their ideas, ideals, revelations and dreams. And though nearly everything in life has evolved at a spectacular rate, one thing has remained unchanged: Paris continues to inspire – and ultimately shape – creatives from all artistic horizons.
Discover some of the spots that have most inspired my own writings.
Prepare to be transported by some of the most awe-inspiring paintings in Impressionist art. Located in the midst of the Tuileries gardens, the Musée de l’Orangerie holds one of Monet’s most spectacular series, Les Nymphéas (The Water Lilies). A composition of eight paintings depicting the ponds of his beloved gardens, the works stretch across the vast, curved walls of the museum’s dedicated rooms. You can sense how each detail – the rhythm, positioning, volumes and hues – was carefully studied to create a fully immersive experience. Seated before these works, engulfed by their majestic tones and brushstrokes, you can easily slip into a meditative state. Ideal to evoke the poetic senses.
Tucked away along the cobblestone streets of the city’s 18th arrondissement, this hidden address seems to stand outside the grasp of time. A small, intimate hotel that was once a private home, this charming abode offers two distinct ambiances, depending on when one you visit. By day, this elegant and understatedly chic address offers a tender cocoon in which you can cozy up to a cup of tea and relax in its intimate setting. By night, simply descend down the crimson-red, carpeted staircase into the hotel bar, the Très Particulier. With its plush red velvet seating, luscious vegetation and gilded mirror bar, you can easily draw inspiration from its sophistication and allure.
Ideal for a pause from city life, the Quais de Seine offer a stroll along the river, gently guiding you among countless breathtaking landmarks. As you advance, take note of all those sitting along the stone benches or the edge of the path, legs dangling over the water. Between friends enjoying an apéro, couples creating romantic memories or others reading by the river, there’s an inexplicable sense of meaningful connection and precious, tender moments taking place… Undoubtedly, a site steeped in emotion and inspiration.
There’s a profound sense of freedom and a lightness of being that come with being situated high on a hilltop overlooking the entire city. Especially if there are few people present. To fully capture the beauty of this location, a (very) early morning visit is essential. Stop for a freshly-made croissant along the way, before climbing up to the top of Montmartre. With all of Paris gently waking in the streets below, the vast expanse of the city’s architecture outstretched before you is truly a sight to behold. Drink in the sunrise – perhaps while listening to soothing music – and let your ideas flow.
Situated in the 3rd arrondissement, this hotel’s air of laid-back elegance sets the perfect tone. (So much so that it’s even included in one of the illustrations of my book Swiping for Prince Charming.) Situated beneath its glass ceiling, bathed in natural light, you can relax, sip on a cup of coffee and write to your heart’s content. Its neutral, soothing hues, luscious plants and comfortable seating invite you to unwind and arrive in the ideal state to craft your most creative pieces.
Truly unique in nature, Paris has come to epitomize artistic expression. And with its countless hidden gems and iconic landmarks, it’s undeniable that the city is overflowing with beauty. I hope you’ll find the opportunity to explore or rediscover these precious sites with new eyes, ready to soak in all the poetic inspiration they have to provide.