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.