15 Things I Love about Sydney and Paris

South Head and Sydney CBD, from North Head  14 August 2008

Sydney Harbour & CBD from North Head, 14 Aug 2008

Sydney, Thursday

Cities are so personal, as are lists of favourite things.  I still have infinite amounts to learn about both Sydney and Paris, and everyone who visits or lives in either of these two cities finds his or her own magic about them. 

In my Sydney Paris life, here are 15 things I love most about each city.


1 – At the Heart    


Sydney Harbour, which I wrote about hereI love everything about it and the way it’s at the heart of the city’s life and lifestyle


Café-sitting, an activity at the heart of Parisian life and lifestyle; watching the world go by and hearing the French language spoken everywhere


2 – Man-made


The area around Circular Quay, including the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Royal Botanic Gardens


The bridges and quais of the Seine, the Louvre pyramid, Musée D’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame


3 – Coffee 


A cappuccino or flat white in view of the water


Un petit cafe noir at a little round table on the footpath


4 – Places


Manly and the Northern Beaches area where we live, which Clive accurately calls God’s Country.  Manly is the only Sydney suburb with both a harbour and an ocean beach. 


Ile St.-Louis and Ile de la Cité; the Tuileries, Luxembourg, and Ranelagh Gardens; the little park behind Notre-Dame


5 – Beauty and Feel


The temperate climate and frequent blue skies, sunshine, fresh air and sparkling water; I’m convinced the brilliant weather affects the psyche and outlook of Sydneysiders.  It lifts my spirits; despite having a population of over 4 million, Sydney feels wide and open to me, with its great natural beauty, colourful bird and plant life, and overarching bright blue skies.  The air this time of year smells like spring is coming and it feels young and fresh and new. 


I know there are gorgeous days in Paris, but it often has a gray, older feel, with its stunning architectural beauty and the feeling of history that pervades everything.   Paris feels more tight and closed-in to me, both physically and mentally.  Its centuries of history and culture lift my spirits in a way that’s impossible to experience in Australia or the U.S.


6 – Food


Modern Australian cuisine:  fresh seafood and produce, Aussie prawns or barramundi with strong Asian influences, the best lamb I’ve ever eaten; plus a full range of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Greek, and Italian cuisines


Baguettes, patés, fresh Camembert, chèvre, Roquefort, Président buerre doux, and custardy-chocolate religieuse treats from the patisserie


7 – Walking


Walking — along coastal paths or in national park bushland:  Manly to Spit Bridge or Queenscliff to Dee Why, a world apart in peacefulness yet only minutes from Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD).  Clive’s daughter lives and works in a national park on the outskirts of Sydney.


Walking — in the quartiers, wrought-iron balconies, turn of the century buildings, interesting side streets, papetries – entire shops devoted to paper and stationery – BHV, Parisian hustle and bustle  


8 – Public Transport


Taking ferries as often as possible, combined with an excellent bus system


The cost-effectiveness and ease of using the métro and one or two bus lines; I need to learn more about Paris buses and take them more often


9 – Global Consciousness 


Global awareness and being part of the Asia Pacific region, getting daily world news as a matter of course, having routine conversations with friends and colleagues about events inside and outside Australia


Being in Europe, and able to travel relatively easily to many other European countries; it is also close to Clive’s family and roots in England  


10 – Wine


The quality and availability of Australian and New Zealand wine and visiting wine regions; Australia’s Semillon and Shiraz, New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir


The abundance of French wines from which to choose; Champagne and Bordeaux; I want to learn much more about the wines of France and visit French wine regions


11 – Culture & Lifestyle


Sydney’s relaxed, casual culture, business world notwithstanding; friendly and laid-back, even considered a bit hedonistic at times, as in let’s finish our coffee before we rush back to work


Paris’s more reserved, serious, and seriously romantic culture, and more Catholic (at least to this WASP) or religious influence, with great cathedrals and churches highly visible in daily life


12 – Books


Abbey’s Bookshop on York St., a large independent bookstore; nearby is Sydney’s more well-known chain, Dymocks, and a Borders in Pitt St. pedestrian Mall.  Thus far Sydney has nothing like the number and size of Barnes and Noble and other enormous bookstores in the U.S.


Librairie Galignani on rue de Rivoli, for books in English (and French), particularly for current events; WH Smith down the street when a real fix of English-language books is needed


13 – Day or Weekend Trips


Sydney’s proximity to seemingly endless beaches and national parks, the Hunter Valley, and the Blue Mountains


Day trips to Chartres and Monet’s Garden at Giverny


14 –Finding Myself – The Importance of Geography     


That Sydney is the place I came on a family adventure with my late husband and our son, and we fell in love with it and went through the long process of acquiring permanent residency, then citizenship; that Sydney is where I met Clive, the love of my new life


That Paris is the place I dreamt about from age 9 in New Jersey, and the place to which I’ve returned at the most important times of my life


15 – Finding My Love         


Living with Clive anywhere, but especially in the apartment we found and bought together, overlooking Sydney Harbour and the Pacific Ocean; it was another big adventure for both of us and a place where I’m happier than I ever thought I’d be, thanks to Mr. Original coming into my life


The precious square metres I call my own, sacred space to me; its purchase was a follow your bliss decision supported by my late husband, when our parents and everyone else said it was crazy to blow my life savings, especially when it’s so far from Australia.  If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had what little time we did there.  Now, it fills me with happiness that I can share it, and Paris, with Clive  

Taken by Clive on Our First Trip to Paris Together, 2006

4 Responses

  1. You make me want to move to Sydney! Poor me stuck in Paris. If you want to learn more about French wine and food pairings check out my link. I’m just getting into a serious study of French wines myself. It is so interesting to learn about the different regions and the history and culture of France, all the while drinking great wine!

  2. Kim, a belated thank you – your site is GREAT!

  3. […] have more favorite things! This time from a reader named Carolyn who puts her own spin on the idea. Click here for 15 Things I Love About Sydney and Paris. My favorite of her favorites:  I know there are […]

  4. Lovely post.

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