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photos by Victoria Milko (polaroids, digitals, and 120) and Lex Paulson (mobile phone shots)

words by Lex Paulson

Nine Ironclad Rules for an Impromptu Liaison d’Amour

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” -Voltaire

“I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles.” -Cole Porter

Love, like the French, demands both soft spontaneity and harder doctrine.

If you choose Paris, you lovers, you will find a city which conjures—all at once—the most refined sentiments of humankind, and a passionate desire to refer those sentiments to the guillotine for a haircut.Revel, romantics, in these nine laws of the City of Lights; our bible, our sacred compilation of mistakes and accidents, is for believers and heretics alike.

Build an impervious system of love, and demolish it. Theorise. Make out. Be French.


Ironclad Rule #1: First things first—the major attractions are neither to be slavishly sought nor coolly ignored. Iconic attractions abound, but seeing the sights is about finding your own angle.

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“America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” -Gertrude Stein

Ironclad Rule #2: Start the day in bed, at the Hotel St. Germain des Pres, 36 Rue Bonaparte. Add pains au chocolats, vanilla yogurt, and an enormous quantity of fresh fruit. And tea.

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“Unable to repress the happiness with which the afternoon’s adventure had filled him, he kept repeating to himself: ‘How nice it would be to have a little woman like that in whose house one could always be certain of finding, what one can never be certain of finding, a really good cup of tea.” -Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

Ironclad Rule #3: The damn finest produce in Paris, which is in turn the damn finest produce on God’s green earth, can be found in the Marais between Rue des Lombards and Rue Saint-Martin. A strawberry is not a strawberry.

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“I will astonish Paris with an apple.” -Paul Cezanne

Ironclad Rule #4: Two cafés, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene, / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil brunch makes civil hands unclean. You can’t be on both sides: you have to choose.

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Somehow, at some point, in a past that was right around the corner but—to Nicole, at least—was irretrievable, something had happened to make the Café de Flore the most fashionable place in Paris and the Deux Magots the least.” -Adam Gopnik, From Paris to the Moon

Ironclad Rule #5: A potent aphrodisiac is formed by the combination of Pistachio, Amaretto, and Malaga gelati. As the Parisians say, “Vas-y doucement”—handle with extreme care.

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“Ice-cream is exquisite – what a pity it isn’t illegal as well.” -Voltaire

Ironclad Rule #6: Right across from Notre Dame is Shakespeare & Company, the timeless temple of Americans in Paris and a literary conclave which numbered Joyce, Hemingway, and Ginsberg as high priests. The bookstore’s lay ministers—young expat poets and wanderers—still work the register by day and type new masterpieces upstairs at night. Go.

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“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway


(The “three S’s” of Paris: Siesta, soccer porn, and subterranean Russian song)

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Ironclad Rule #7: Go to Montparnasse. Find a crepe. Annihilate it.


“All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris. Beauty paints and when it painted most, I shot.” -Ernst Haas

Ironclad Rule #8: The greatest pleasures of Paris smile at your money and push it away. Brass bands in the Luxembourg Gardens, communal picnics along the canals of Republique, cloud-watching through the tangoed canopy of Chatelet Les Halles.

Leave your currency; take wine and the one you love.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  -Marcel Proust

Ironclad Rule #9: Escape from Paris.


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“Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams.”        -Baudelaire.