The romance of Paris was lost on me – until Mark Rothko lured me back

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I’d only ever scratched the surface of the French capital, preferring to travel to exotic places further away. But now I’m back – and I’m blown away

Joy is the city that surprises you – that was my verdict as I wrapped up a recent long weekend in Paris. More than a decade had passed since I’d first visited the French capital, and I can recall very little from that two-day sojourn, just scattered memories of intimidatingly dressed women shopping in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and a trip to Notre Dame Cathedral, which remained clad in scaffolding because of the terrible 2019 fire.

Back then, Europe’s fabled city of romance was lost on me. I had no friends there to help unlock it and, fearing tourist traps, I was lazy about putting in the legwork to get to know its streets. I suspect my inertia was also down to the fact that Paris is so easy to reach from the UK that I could afford to “put it in the bank”.

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