Most memoirs about moving to Paris are love stories. While I always add these books to my reading queue, there’s something about them to which I can’t relate. Maybe it’s because when I studied abroad in Paris, I was homesick. I was scared. I felt dumb, mostly because my vocabulary was on-par with that of a kindergartener (my host family’s five year old daughter and I got along very well). And despite all these feelings, Paris really was magical. The City of Lights is beautiful. Even the most boring, routine elements of life take on a special meaning. Buying a fresh baguette, browsing the cheese aisle, learning the Metro system, discovering wine, seeing a movie in French, shopping in Le Marais — these are all things I’d have done in the US without giving them a second thought, but in Paris, these activities became accomplishments. They made me feel just the tiniest bit French.
Paris, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down is a memoir about one guy’s love story with France, and how he romanticized the city before living there, discovered it to be utterly imperfect — full of quirks and challenges — but managed to fall in love with it again, for completely different reasons. It reminded me so much of my own experience, and made me want to live in Paris all over again. I really liked this book — possibly because of how well I related to the subject — but if you’re even the slightest bit of a Francophile, you’ll enjoy it too.