Paris. It’s all in the Name

What does the name Paris, said in a French accent, conjure in your mind? Let’s add to that initial sensation with more names of eating places, bistro, café, restaurant, brasserie or names of fast foods, tartes, crêpes, baguette or frites: names of streets and places, rue, arrondissement, porte, pont and parc, église and musée. My list could go on forever. The names of commonplace things sound far more romantic and exciting in a foreign language. There’s more resonance, frisson, and nuance in saying or thinking the words. The very naming of things in your second or third language takes you to that place, is an admittance into a new way of thinking, invoking the culture and history of a place. Foreign language gives you a different perspective on life.

Names on Bridge
Names on locks on the Pont des Arts, Paris.
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A bookshop in Paris. I love bookshops in Paris and Rome. The smell, the words….
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Busy scene at Au Bourguignon du Marais
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The corner at La Perla.
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Strolling around Le Quartier Latin, Paris
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Names Everywhere. Not so quaint in English.
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Le Bistrot des Tartes. Inviting
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Where French meets Yiddish, La Marais
French meets Italian at Pippo en paris
French meets Italian at Pippo in Paris

Pour ma petite-fille, Mischa Belle.

32 thoughts on “Paris. It’s all in the Name”

  1. Lovely distraction this morning. One of the very best things I ever did was learn a little French and Italian. Even the small amount I know opened worlds to me. Thank you Francesca.

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    1. yes, these two languages, connected in many ways, are an entrance ticket for life into a different way of thinking. I have attempted to add mandarin and Indonesian, but without the same success as Italian and French which were implanted long ago.

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  2. Thank you for a lovely Saturday morning walk around a city the pavements of which my feet have not had a chance to tread for quite a few years: even recognized a few places. Incorrectly thought the locks had been removed from the Pont des Arts . . . Languages . . . so agree: methinks if one is born in a very small country the way I was having ‘four local languages’ at least at your disposal was something one learnt with one’s baby porridge 🙂 !! Sheer necessity as no one spoke your tongue !!

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    1. The locks were removed from the Pont des Arts. This photo precedes that. Young Mischa Belle expected to return to Paris as an adult and undo her lock: not to be. But she informed me that she would be returning to Paris when she turns 21 in a year’s time, and with a twinkle in her eye, expects me to be there ( or pay!). The best thing about taking a 14 year old on that journey was that she continued her French studies up to year 12, and may take them up again.
      Yes, I envy Europeans who grow up with four languages.

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    1. yes, maybe…. “ye Olde” may help convey this. I’ve heard non Italian speakers wax lyrically over “Ribollita’, with hushed breath and I wonder if they realise that this Tuscan soup is called ‘Reboiled’?

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  3. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Paris a number of times, although it’s been about 20 years since I was last there. Such a beautiful city and there’s really no place like it. Once there, my first stop was always the Musée d’Orsay followed by several trips to the Louvre over the course of the remainder of my visit. I was in heaven!

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  4. Sweet. Paris was my first visit abroad without my parents. I had zero knowledge of French. Café au lait, jus d’orange and croissant sounded different every day from my mouth. Still can’t master it. As for other food, I went to my first Chinese restaurant there. All other restaurants were closed around 3pm when we – three Yugoslavia-born girls, just getting independently Slovenian that year, 1991 – wanted some lunch. I couldn’t believe how they know in China what noodles my grandma used to make.

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    1. The Chinese invented noodles, so the rest of the world has followed. It is nice in Paris that they have some other cuisines other than French food. This is always a problem for me in Italy- the lack of acceptance of other cuisines. In Australia, we happily eat all cuisines- all are available in restaurants.

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  5. I have been living in Paris for a little over a year now.. I love your post. I know one day I will be back in The States, and I will be missing this amazing city. I agree with you love for bookstores. Also, the Italian restaraunts here are fantastic.
    Merci!!

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  6. I feel exactly the same way about Italy. I just love it there. Everything just feels so much more special that here.
    I have always wondered whether there are non-English folk that look at places on our high streets and think it is all very romantic and magical. For me it isn’t much of a choice between fish and chips in a pub or una pizza nel ristorante 😉🍕

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