Iconic Paris Quotes

Aah, Paris. The city of light has inspired poets and artists for centuries, with its iconic art and architecture, cafe culture and air of romance. To continue our love affair with the city (as seen in our Paris special issue this week), we've rounded up the most memorable bon mots that immortalize Gay Paree, from poems and famous film lines, to the words of great men and women.

Think we've missed a memorable quote about Paris? Share yours in the comments section below.

  • Audrey Hepburn

    "Paris is always a good idea"

    Taken from the film Sabrina, 1954

  • Friedrich Nietzsche

    "An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris."

    The eminent German philosopher shares his affection for the French capital.

  • Sex and the City

    "I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love. And I don't think that love is here in this expensive suite in this lovely hotel in Paris."

    The moment when Carrie realises that she still has feelings for her old flame Mr Big.

  • Gertrude Stein

    "America is my country and Paris is my hometown."

    The American writer, known for her innovative literary style, settled in Paris in 1903, and even wrote a book about the city.

  • Charles de Montesquieu

    "Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half."

    Words about the Parisian love for rich cuisine, from the French lawyer and philosopher.

  • Oscar Hammerstein II, 1940

    "The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay,

    I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café

    The last time I saw Paris, her trees were dressed for spring,

    And lovers walked beneath those trees and birds found songs to sing."

    This song, a huge chart hit during World War II, harks back to the city as it was before it fell under Nazi occupation.

  • Moulin Rouge

    "I first came to Paris one year ago. It was 1899, the summer of love. I knew nothing of the Moulin Rouge, Harold Zidler or Satine. The world had been swept up in the Bohemian Revolution. And I travelled from London to be a part of it."

    Christian (played by Ewan McGregor), types these words as the 2001 film opens.

  • Francois Villon

    "Good talkers are only found in Paris."

    Villon was a fifteenth century French poet, thief, and vagabond.

  • Oscar Wilde

    "They say that when good Americans die they go to Paris."

    From the novel A Picture of Dorian Gray.

  • George Orwell

    "The Rue du Coq d'Or, Paris, seven in the morning."

    The first line from George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.

  • John F Kennedy

    "I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it."

    This is how JFK introduced himself at the SHAPE headquarters in Paris in 1961.

  • Cole Porter

    "I love Paris when it sizzles"

    This iconic Cole Porter song has been sung by Ella Fitzgerald amongst others, and became the title for a film starring Audrey Hepburn.

  • Prince Metternich

    "When Paris sneezes, Europe catches cold."

    An Austrian statesman made this comment about the influence the city had over art and culture in 1830.

  • Mae West

    "I'd like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia will do."

    The iconic American actress ponders the appeal of Paris.

  • Paris, Je T'Aime

    "That was the moment I fell in love with Paris and the moment that I felt that Paris had fallen in love with me."

    The character Carol says this line, in the 2006 series of mini-films about Paris and love.

  • Ernest Hemingway

    "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

    From A Moveable Feast, Hemingway's memoirs.

  • Sylvia Plath

    "It's like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction - every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it's really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and that excitement at about a million miles an hour."

    A famous line from the novel The Bell Jar.

  • Jean Cocteau

    "In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator."

    The French poet, novelist and playwright on the call for stardom in Paris.

  • Paul Cezanne

    "With an apple I will astonish Paris."

    Cezanne did indeed astonish the art world with his now world-famous fruit paintings.

  • Honoré de Balzac

    "Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant."

    The French novelist and playwright shares his views on Paris and fashion.

  • Gaston Leroux

    "In Paris, our lives are one masked ball."

    From the novel The Phantom of the Opera, made into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

  • Casablanca

    Ilsa: But what about us?

    Rick: We'll always have Paris

    One of the most iconic exchanges from the 1942 film.

  • An American in Paris

    "I've never seen so many Americans in Paris before. The Champs Elysees looks just like Main Street."

    The whimsical scenes of Gene Kelly dancing with Leslie Caron through the city in the 1951 classic film are enough to make you hop on a Eurostar straight away.

  • Victor Hugo

    "To err is human. To loaf is Parisian."

    Victor Hugo wrote the Paris-based novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris.

  • Allen Ginsberg

    "You can't escape the past in Paris, and yet what's so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn't seem to burden."

    The celebrated poet on Paris's world-famous landscape, including the Notre Dame cathedral (pictured).

  • F Scott Fitzgerald

    "The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American."

    The American author on transnational relations.

  • Fred Allen

    "The first thing that strikes a visitor to Paris is a taxi."

    Fred Allen was an American comedian whose radio show was hugely popular during the 1930s and 40s.

  • James Thurber

    “…the whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music…it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in Everything.”

    Humorist and former editor of The New Yorker James Thurber, in a letter to a friend (1918).

  • John Berger

    "Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman."

    John Berger is the influential art critic behind 1972 BBC series Ways of Seeing, which questioned standard cultural aesthetics in the west.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte

    "Secrets travel fast in Paris."

    The iconic reformer, leader of the latter part of the French revolution, and emperor of France.

  • Charles Dickens

    "What an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!"

    The Victorian novelist on the charms of Paris.

  • Pulp Fiction

    "In Paris, you can buy beer at McDonald's. Also, you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? ... They call it a Royale with cheese."

    This car exchange between Vincent and Jules is one of the most famous in Tarantino's 1994 cult classic movie.

  • James Joyce

    "There is an atmosphere of spiritual effort here. No other city is quite like it. I wake early, often at 5 o’clock, and start writing at once. "

    The Irish novelist on Paris's literary ethos.

  • Margaret Anderson

    "Paris is the only city where you can step out of a railway station —and see, the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the beginning of the Champs Elysees—what other city offers as much as you leave a train? "

    Margaret was an editor and publisher known for bringing poets Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot to the USA.

  • Michel de Montaigne

    "I love Paris tenderly and am French only by this great city: the glory of France, and one of the noblest ornaments of the world. "

    Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance.

  • The Talented Mr Ripley

    "Oh I hated New York - that Park Avenue crowd - so I fled to Paris to work on my book, and I was always going to this cafe with Jean-Jacques, and Dickie used to play his saxophone outside and I would see him and he would see me, and he would play My Funny Valentine. It wasn't until later that I realised he only knows about six songs."

    These words are spoken by Marge (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) in the 1999 film.

  • Ninotchka

    "It's midnight. One half of Paris is making love to the other half."

    In this 1939 film, Greta Garbo plays a stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business.

  • April in Paris

    “That’s what makes Paris, Paree”

    In this fluffy 1952 musical, Doris Day plays a chorus girl mistakenly sent to Paris to represent American theatre.

  • Milan Kundera

    "Yes, it was too late, and Sabina knew she would leave Paris, move on, and on again, because were she to die here they would cover her up with a stone, and in the mind of a woman for whom no place is home the thought of an end to all flight is unbearable."

    From the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being

  • Silk Stockings

    "Paris loves lovers."

    Silk Stockings was a 1957 MGM musical film remake of Ninotchka, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.

  • Adolf Hitler

    "Is Paris burning?"

    Adolf Hitler's question to his chief of staff Alfred Jodl on the eve of the liberation of Paris in 1944.

  • Henry Miller

    "When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise."

    From the novel Tropic of Cancer

  • Everyone Says I Love You

    "I should go to Paris and jump off of the Eiffel Tower. If I took the Concorde, I could be dead three hours earlier."

    A Woody Allen quote from the 1996 film he wrote and directed.

  • Thomas Jefferson

    "A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life."

    Thomas Jefferson was appointed the US minister to France in 1785. He later became president of the US.

  • T.S. Eliot

    "Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall

    My buried life, and Paris in the spring,

    I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world

    To be wonderful and youthful after all"

    From Collected Poems 1909-1962


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