The Brooklynization of Paris (Photo Essay)

Photographer Eugena Ossi captures Parisian scenes that reflect the city's growing obsession with New York's trendiest borough.

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  • Good pizza places are rare in Paris, but they do exist. Pizza New Yorkaise is not one of them.
  • Every Monday at 8:55pm, you can watch the TV series Brooklyn Taxi, based on a film by Luc Besson that was originally set in Marseilles, France.
  • Franks and baseball are the stuff of American dreams. And in a kind of blasé nod to this notion, there exists the Hot Dog Corner, not located on a corner.
  • Even in France, nothing says hipster like spandex in all colors, oversized glasses, and vegan leather.
  • Brooklyn Brewery has seamlessly made its way into the city's small, yet growing, beer scene.
  • Et voilà, beards!
  • On offering at this cozy hot dog stand: a not-so cozy 3,50€ hot dog americain, or hot dog alsacien.
  • Vans in Williamsburg, Vans in Paris, Vans everywhere.
  • You can drink a beer, have coffee, or shop at this concept store.
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  • Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg has gone global: You can now enjoy burgers and fries at the Bedford Avenue Diner in the 7th arrondissement.
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  • Is euro-fried chicken better than the fried chicken off the J train at Myrtle Ave?
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  • PNY (a.k.a. Paris New York) is a burger restaurant on Rue Faubourg Saint-Denis, which is an area experiencing slow gentrification. There are a couple hipster hang-outs, but there are more places to find lahmaçun (Turkish pizza).
  • Lazy Sundays with friends along the Canal Saint-Martin.
  • Shoes thrown over power lines isn’t very common in Paris, but you can spot a handful of them throughout the city.
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It’s hard to decide whether to embrace or reject the so-called “Brooklynization” of Paris, especially as a New Yorker. In one sense, it’s annoying that the new wave of cool is often a bilingual carbon copy of restaurants and shops you’d find walking down Smith Street. In another, it’s profound. For a modern nation entrenched in tradition, it’s pretty amazing to see the French open up to the avant-garde (if you can even call it that) of another place. I mean, this is the country that banned the term “e-mail” to preserve its culture.

While for some it’s upsetting to see neighborhoods being stripped of their character because of the growing number of yuppie businesses that attract scene-hungry hipsters, it’s not all bad.

Despite the city’s reputation for café culture, the coffee itself was overlooked. It tasted really bad (so bad) until recently. Now, there are a handful of cafés that are serious about making good coffee. The only real difference between here and Brooklyn is that the barista will be some beautiful bilingual Aussie instead of the usual bearded Williamsburg denizen.

[This type of gentrification] is not specific to Paris, but it’s interesting to see the way the French captial is interpreting hipster (bobo) culture.

That said, it’s worth mentioning that there is a growing number of bearded French men these days, some of whom are even baristas themselves. Generally, this is a tailored country when it comes to personal appearance— even cooks in France are clean-shaven and without tattoos. But now that Brooklyn is trending, beards are à la mode.

The new wave of Brooklynized businesses has also created a welcome middle ground for dining in the city. Instead of deciding between Michelin-starred restaurants, take-away stands, or brasserie chains, there is an added option of reasonably priced restaurants that serve good food without the usual pomp-and-circumstance of French dining. They also happen to attract a hipster crowd (go figure), and they tend to look a lot like Brooklyn restaurants. Still, these restaurants seem to be addressing a need for high-quality casual dining that existed in Paris but was never met until recently.

In some respect, the Brooklynization of Paris seems no different than the gentrification that is happening throughout Western Europe. It’s not specific to Paris, but it’s interesting to see the way the French capital is interpreting hipster (bobo) culture, and what will come next as a result.

Maybe Brooklyn will be taking cues from Paris in a few years, just like it has in the past, and the cycle will begin again.

Eugena Ossi is a New Yorker living in Paris to get up close and personal with the language, culture, people, and food (so much food). Follow her on Instagram, and check out her portfolio at eugenaossi.com.

  • clément

    Come on there’s some stuff Paris didn’t wait brooklyn to having it ! The truck with graffiti, the graffiti on the walls !
    Paris has a very strong street culture, don’t think it’s brooklyn who made it !!

  • Creepy

    LOL. We have those trendy simple bars and shops from decades (yeah, decades, I was already here to testify) and don’t forget Paris is a town of tourism and multi-culture, of course we copy a lot of american stuff, but it’s not new and we do our own stuffs too ! (Like if americans never use “the french touch” to make something more atractive because France is “exotic”)

    The beard became trendy five years ago guys, wake up. Street art is so much popular in France, sorry guys, we haven’t waited you for that, either…

    And please just drop the stuff about the “email” word or the “hashtag”. It’s not because our government freaks out about our culture that the population is that narrow-minded. As a french girl, I totaly know that I’m very influenced by the american culture, as every other countries, but we’re not copycats.

    You say it’s annoying that we are copying you, but what’s really anoying is that you only see YOUR culture in ours. Don’t be so self-centered. We both have beautiful cutlures, don’t start with ” I made it first “. It’s so kiddish and who cares ?

    By the way, you say we just started to make good coffee like you do but I’ll let you know that American coffee has a very very bad reputation outside your frontiers… and I quite agree with that. No offense ;)

    • Modern Gox

      There is nothing to add

    • dddd

      There is a difference between American coffee and Brooklyn coffee. Just as there is a difference between things in Paris and things in the rest of France, but perhaps you have figured that out yourself ;)
      Coffee has been treated as an artisanal endeavor in NY in recent years. Something that is indeed new to Paris. THAT is the point being made.

  • ddddd

    Good god French people are so unbearable. In recent years France has been massively impacted by American culture. Of course it is a two way street, and no one is disputing that. The fact is that in this moment, American and, more specifically, Brooklyn (and this is the key part that the other commentators are missing), styles are trendy. Just admit it! It’s not the end of the world.

    • *

      But the styles are all old.

  • Cédric

    Only showoff/poseur/idiots drink the Brooklyn beer, we have the best beers just beside, in Belgium, and in the north of France… Also, we got wine. On this point, don’t be afraid, we will continue to drink it! I agree on the hamburger point (which you do not speak about actually). But we are also eating Currywurst & Bratwurst as Berliners…

    Skate and graffiti cultures have been in France culture for a long time…
    Beards are international, writers and intelectuals have been wearing them since the cavemen. I guess followers did too.

    I am not saying we are not looking up to Brooklyn, but we are still proud of our culture! Only a few are getting blind for the hype. And we still eat kebab at 5am when hipster cafés are closed!
    Cheers.

  • James Tarry

    This is not Paris wanting to be Brooklyn, this is the face of gentrification period. These photos could be taken in almost any city right now.

    • *

      Seriously. lol. Who writes for this publication.

  • weird

    From Germany to Brasil guys are wearing hipster beards. Do you really think it’s just a Brooklyn thing ?

  • *

    Vans has been in Europe for decades. Concept stores have been in Europe for decades. Graffiti has been in europe for decades.

    Are you a couple of decades behind when it comes to places outside of the US ?

  • Alex

    I dont think its all brooklyn, and not a single ledlampen?

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