moments of illumination in the city of light

014 : Tory Hoen a crazy apartment in Montmartre and a taxi, Montmartre
Born in 1983 in Connecticut and Montreal, Tory Hoen currently works as Wannabe Writer Why Paris? Seems like a good idea She digs the following Paris bits: 1. the guy who sells cherries at the Marché Bastille (and hangs them on his ears) 2. flânerie 3. La Fontaine des Medicis 4. lovely pigeons 5. babies speaking French She is, however, a bit miffed by people who insist on speaking English to you, the exchange rate, the tiny q-tips, the disdain for jogging, and tourists in matching t-shirts. For more info on Tory Hoen you should send an email or visit her blog.

image: Bertrand Degove / La Direction

“Paris is its own reason.”

I had gone out for a drink and, eight hours later, I was still out, shimmying around an impromptu dance party at an artist’s apartment in Montmartre, amazed at how an evening in Paris could suddenly morph into a perfect parody of itself. I was still new to this city, and many of my early nights here went this way.

One apéro[1] led to another, which, on this night, led to an art opening, then to a cheese plate—shared by all of us—and then the bartender reached behind the zinc bar to pull out a special wine he wanted us to try; the conversation escalated, the group became more and more delighted with itself, with the city, with the world at large. We sauntered over cobblestones. My friend stopped to pick up a playing card from the ground—a lucky sign. We passed Sacré Coeur and slipped through the apartment’s doorway, dancing through the halls of what seemed like an alternate world perched atop the city. Samurai swords hung on the walls and bossa nova floated through the secret garden in the courtyard. Paris itself felt like an alternate world, and I was incapable of separating the reality of it from the dream of it, if there is a difference.

I tumbled out of the magic apartment onto the cobblestones, where a taxi idled quietly. I jumped for it, knowing the Metro had long since stopped running for the night. As we descended, Sacré Coeur loomed higher and higher behind us, and the taxi driver asked the fatal question: “Qu’est-ce que vous faites à Paris?”[2]

At this point, the truth still felt ridiculous. I was twenty-four. I had left everything familiar in New York to move here without knowing why. To write a novel, I told myself. To discover something. To stumble upon an opportunity that I could not yet anticipate. I wanted to tell him how New York had drained me of energy and how, as soon as I set foot on French soil, I knew I could create any kind of life I wanted.

But my limited French and the long wine-soaked evening prevented me from articulating all that I wanted to say. As we neared the Bastille, the Spirit of Liberty floated ahead of us, star-like in the black night.[3] I had fifteen seconds to come up with something.

There is room to breathe here. Everything begs to be written down. You can be young and unpublished and a writer; these are not oxymorons. Paris wants writers; it helps them. “Paris est plus…” I tried to put a thought together.

“C’est plus…” he searched for words as well.

“C’est plus inspirant.”

“Vous avez trouvé le mot,” he confirmed.[4]

Paris is its own reason.

referenced works

  1. Short for “apéritif,” or pre-dinner drink. Often used as an excuse to have an informal gathering in one’s home or at a bar which is not always followed by a dinner and which may go all night.

  2. literally, “What do you do in Paris,” but when asked of a foreigner, “What are you doing in Paris?”

  3. Le génie de la liberté, the golden angel which stands atop the Bastille column, sculpted by Auguste Dumont and mounted in 1830. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_Column

  4. “Paris is more…”/ “It’s more…”/ “It’s more inspiring.”/ “That’s the word.”

location information

  • Name: in Montmartre and a taxi
  • Address: Rue Muller
  • Time of story: Late NIght
  • Latitude: 48.887055
  • Longitude: 2.34659
  • Map: Google Maps


  1. Grant Walker [1] in Amsterdam thinks: “You can be young and unpublished and a writer; these are not oxymorons.” Paris seems to encourage the artist from within. From the rooftops of Clichy to the jardins of Montparnasse, the place is teeming with creativity.
  2. Grant Walker [1] in Amsterdam thinks: P.S. I too named my scribblings “A Moveable Beast” and had planned to take the blogger URL as well, but I saw that someone beat me to it. Was keen to find out if the blog was any good, or if the scribe in question was just wasting precious URL space… I am glad to see that is not true.
  3. Lauren in Paris thinks: Thanks for your comments, Grant! Oh, the rooftops of Clichy. Makes me long for some height.


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