In the past few weeks, while walking the streets of the West Village, the neighborhood in Manhattan I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, I’ve been unsure whether to address my neighbors with a “Bonjour” or a “‘Sup?” (Despite the latter being a very dated New Yawk City greeting, not to mention how foreign it is to actually acknowledge anyone to begin with.)
My confusion isn’t because I’ve been straddling two languages and two cities for the better part of a year, but because Bleecker Street—the West Village’s Thoroughfare of Cool—has gone completely French!
At last count, there were 8 French brands on that block alone, with another two on the way:
- Maje (clothing) 417 Bleecker
- Sandro (clothing) 415 Bleecker
- Christofle (silver) Opening soon at 396 Bleecker
- Diptyque (perfumer) 377 Bleecker
- MM6 Maison Margiela (clothing) 363 Bleecker
- Comptoir des Cottoniers (clothing boutique) 345 Bleecker
- Maison Kayser (bakery) Opening soon at 362 Bleecker
- Sisley (perfumer) 343 Bleecker
- Saint James (clothing) 319 Bleecker
- Caudalie (beauty) 315 Bleecker
Of course, while it may seem oddly apropos and ironic, I realize it’s nothing more than a mere coincidence that I probably just didn’t notice before—or wouldn’t really notice now if I weren’t about to swap 10011 for 75018. After all, this is New York City: the place where you can find anything and everything from all over the world on one easily-walkable island.
Still, while I recall seeing storefronts like Comptoir des Cotonniers, Diptyque and Saint James before I left, many of the others are new and seem to be screaming, “New York Loves France, therefore it’s OK that you do, too. So yes, why not go and trade NY for Paris for a while!”
Funnily enough, adoration for New York is being expressed across the Atlantic. Just this past week, Le Bon Marché debuted its “Brooklyn Rive Gauche” pop-up shop, featuring all things the Hipster Borough (think bagels, totes, mason jars and more.)
I’m sort of digging this Big Apple-City of Light lovefest. It continues to make the whole transition from one to the other all the more seamless and very pas grand chose. Or, as they may say in New York, very “fuggedaboutit, no biggie.”
Check out these fun Paris and New York maps that flip the city’s neighborhoods from the book Paris vs New York: A Tally of Two Cities.