Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nolita = Little Paris

Sea of Euros at Cafe Gitane.

I think all of New York is conspiring to send me back to Paris. It seems I can't walk five feet in this city without running into a French tourist, or a French family, or just a French person who has claimed New York as his / her own. It probably doesn't help that I spend most of my time in Nolita and the Lower East Side, where all of transplanted Europe seems to convene to walk around looking painfully stylish. Cafe Gitane has a way of making me feel like an out-of-place foreigner in my own city, so obviously I am obsessed with it and have vowed to go there as often as possible until I have sufficiently "assimilated." Plus, their avocado toast is out-of-control good.

But seriously, New York is awash with French people, and many of them are inexplicably enamored with Abercrombie & Fitch (they don't know it's not cool, which I find endearing... like the one chink in their otherwise intimidatingly sleek armor). But as I was saying, if you stand at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets, the English evaporates and you might as well be standing at the corner of rue Vieille du Temple and rue des Francs Bourgeois.

Every time I find myself next to a French speaker, I want to tell them all about how I used to live in Paris, but then I realize, they're French and they don't give a f*ck—which makes me like them even more.

But the fact that French people are as obsessed with New York as we are with Paris seems to provide some kind of cultural reckoning—or at least mutual affirmation. As maladroit as I sometimes feel when I'm in Paris, it all balances itself out when I see a perfectly nice looking French boy sporting a hideously branded A&F t-shirt here in New York. It's not OK, but since you're French, je te pardonnerai. I'll let it go.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should write a review of Nolita here, it sounds like you have nailed it with the Paris connection:

http://nabewise.com/nyc/nolita

Andi said...

I often feel the same in San Francisco which has a decent French population. I love having breakfast at Cafe Presse near the French embassy, I can grab a Le Monde or Paris match, sit with an espresso and pretend I am in Paris.

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

I was looking at the craigslist apartment swaps for Paris the other day..errrr,, anyway they all wanted to swap for New York, not London. Annoying! That's so sweet about A&F - a chink, a single chink...

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks! You've perfectly nailed the I-used-to-live-in-Paris sentiment. I think we need a support group.

Love your blog.

Maggie said...

I used to live on the same block as Gitane (in the 90s!) and it was exactly the same way then. Loved it!

Have a great trip to Paris!

Hanna said...

WOW I completely know what you mean! I lived in Nolita and it seemed like every other person on the street was French, and all of my favorite cafes/restaurants in the area are French or frequented by Europeans. So funny. And I'm actually leaving NYC for a year to move to Paris in July :) Hopefully I come back to Nolita!

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