I never expected to fall in love in Paris, and yes I know how crazy that sounds to me. Who doesn’t go to Paris without hoping for a little love on their itinerary? It’s the whole point of the place, after all. But when I came to the City of Light, I had just experienced a long break-up in the USA. Arriving in Paris for a Christmas holiday, I felt like an emotional refugee: escaping from a fractured romance, determined to find a quiet little corner of the world where I didn’t know a soul, where the wine was cheap and I could tend to my broken heart.

I didn’t have any interest in love. It just contributed to heartache. My only aim was to imitate the people who came before me, to sit at the table of Hemingway’s moveable feast, and to eat and drink to my heart’s content. But as it turned out the city had other plans for me, just like it has for countless thousands of hopeless romantics before me.

Besides the fact that the whole city looks like a romantic comedy film set—the kind of place where Meg Ryan might goofily fall in love or Marlon Brando might take an apartment near the Seine and have a lot of steamy afternoon sex the French are the unquestionable masters of public displays of affection. It’s not rare to be sitting at a café, taking care of your own affairs, only to have your croque monsieur interrupted by an amorous couple at the next table, playing an enthralling game of tonsil hockey. Falling in love in Paris will happen! We’ve all heard that Paris is called the “city of lights” and the paradise of lovers, but I didn’t know it could happen to me.

Finding love in Paris, France

As a country, France is a country-sized cauldron of high emotion. Every French person realizes that at any particular time, they may be called upon to make an overtly romantic gesture, spend hours chasing a member of the opposite (or the same) sex (often a complete stranger) or vigorously arguing with and then furiously grappling with, their partner.

France is also the capital of flirting around the world. And it is one of the many great pleasures of living in the City of Light. There’s an unwritten compact between all Parisians that not only is it appropriate to flirt gently with strangers on the street, it’s necessary. The raising of an eyebrow as you pass the Metro stairs, a coquettish grin, a lingering glance. Far from being hostile or predatory, it’s a celebration of the effort that a fellow person has made to look good that day.

So it was against this highly charged history, and against my best judgment, that I found myself falling in love in Paris. Her name was Carina, and she came from the United States for Christmas holidays as well. She was a showgirl and one of those otherworldly creatures who nightly grace the stage of the world’s most popular cabaret in a bare-feather and sequins. She was and still is the kind of dreams she made.

What is Fine art photography
What is Fine art photography

We met at a party near the Eiffel Tower during Christmas. The room was full and it was loud. Unusually for a party in Paris, there was a free flow of alcohol. There was more bonhomie than you could poke a bottle of Bordeaux in and out of the room; I spied a glorious head above the melee. She has a long neck, fine features, and very obviously a common attraction among many of the men in the room. By the time I made my way to her, she had already politely undergone a few awkward attempts to seduce other enthusiastic partygoers.

In retrospect, her acceptance to give me her number was more out of touch with my inability to take a hint than with any sincere desire to see me again. Yet I was never great at self-awareness, and as a result one of the least accomplished seductions that French capital has ever seen.

And that was the beauty of this friendship that we had stumbled upon. After years of dating and wandering helplessly through the labyrinth of courtship, here was a burgeoning love affair whose rules of engagement we both recognized. Both of us flew to France determined to lap all that the most remarkable countries had to offer, only to discover that our soul mate was closer to home than any of us could have expected. Every night, I’d meet Carina at the Moulin Rouge’s door as she used to be there to dance. After playing, she would emerge exhausted. I was going to hand her a helmet and as she clung to my waist, I was going to take her through the city on the back of my Vespa.

Alona Koenig Photography. French speaking wedding photographer in Cairo, Egypt

She was 24 while I was 27 years old at that time. Sin I was actually stuck in a dead-end job in USA, and on the run from a broken heart, I decided to take a job in Paris, home of l’amourand la vie boheme; I was determined to make the city my own no matter how many bottles of Bordeaux it takes. I rented an apartment in Le Marais, the heart of the city’s gay district, hardly the ideal place for a guy hoping to woo a girl. I quickly settled into the French work/life balance with its mandatory lunch hour and six weeks of paid vacation. Fully embracing mynewfound culture, Corbett frequents smoky cafes, appears on a television game show, hobnobs with celebrities at Cannes, and attempts to parse the nuances behind French politics and why French people really don’t get fat. When I fell in love with Carina, I realized that my Paris has become home, I fell with the city and I also found someone who I really love.

It was my pleasure having you here. Thank you for your interest in my works and I hope to meet you soon!

Alona Koenig

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