Dear Paris,

I have to admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The entire world speaks of you in high regards, calling you the city of love, the city of lights. But I have also heard from your critics, those doubting Thomases who defile your name by uncovering your dirty little secret: that you’re dirty. I see you differently, though. Sure, you’re a little rough around the edges. To be honest, my first impression of you came from my train ride into the city from the airport, where I was not too impressed by your trash-covered weed-covered hillsides. I had all but written you off when at last, the tan buildings and distant smokestacks came into sight. The history surrounded me all at once and I understood why you had earned your more flattering reputations.

The city of love and lights. I was skeptical at first, as any twentysomething young woman is when she hears the word love. On the train, a couple got on and proceeded to share their love with each other shamelessly. I briefly forgot the history I had just seconds ago admired, as fear set in that this may be a vacation full of couples gazing into each other’s eyes and kissing under the eiffel tower. But it hasn’t been. The love I have felt in this city has come from the narrow alleyways, from the Christmas decorations lining the streets, from the palaces around every corner, and from the beauty I’ve found in the language, the laughter, and yes, the lights.

Your sprawling plazas have drawn me in, your friendly waiters have made me feel at home, and any filth I have seen has only served to make you more human. Every city I’ve visited has had its flaws and its quirks, but to me, those only serve to enrich its history. To be in the city that I have read about since childhood, to feel the stories all around me, and to imagine what these cobblestones have once seen is one of the most incredible feelings in the world. Thank you Paris, and as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I love you.

Yours always,

Mollie

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