Paris through French Frye’s eyes

Shortly after Esteban and I arrived in Paris last week, we had the tremendous pleasure of meeting my blogger friend Corey Frye. He was as charming and smart and witty as his A French Frye in Paris blog had suggested, so I was very excited to meet up with him again this evening for a stroll through the 5th arrondissement.

We chose that location because of the fortified wall that king Philippe Auguste built around the city some 800 years ago. I’d found the remains of one section, but the portion near the Panthéon had eluded me. As I (sheepisly) discovered, I’d walked right past it on at least one occasion.

Actually, that’s a perfect metaphor for my evening with Corey: At every turn, he pointed out spots I’ve walked past a dozen times, oblivious to their historical significance.

He explained that Notre Dame’s flying buttresses had been an afterthought, for instance, added after the walls developed cracks. He pointed out the figures on the façade that had been brought from another building. He told me the story of the archbishop who purportedly sketched the cathedral’s floor plan in the sand—and showed me his statue as well.

He also told me the story of the exquisite ironwork that adorns the main doors.

Everyone was astounded when the doors were first installed, because they’d never seen anything like them. But soon the Parisians’ admiration turned to suspicion, and rumors started spreading.

Surely Biscornet the blacksmith must have sold his soul to the devil to produce such fine work, the people said. Stories sprang up about the locks not working — until after they’d been sprinkled with holy water. The blacksmith died shortly afterward, Corey said. Of a broken heart, perhaps?

As we walked, Corey and I talked about our mutual love for Paris, and about how we both feel so at home here. Like we belong here, somehow. I admitted to being a bit envious that he actually gets to live here. But my envy didn’t last long: He deserves to live here.

Paris is lucky to have you as a friend, Corey — as am I. Meeting you has been one of the biggest highlights of my trip, and you’ve greatly (greatly!) enriched my time in Paris.

Please keep researching and writing about your beloved city. It’s a privilege for the rest of us to see Paris through your French Frye eyes.


  1. WOW, those doors are amazing – how could I have failed to notice them in several visits! The floodlighting shows up the stonecarving exquisitely, too.

    • “How could I failed to have noticed that?!” That’s *exactly* how I felt as Corey pointed out interesting thing after interesting thing. I never imagined I’d find someone who was more in love (dare I say obsessed?) with Paris than I am. So glad I did …

  2. A few more fun-facts for you:

    Fact: a couple of years ago before I moved to Paris, a coworker randomly mentioned how his girlfriend would often meet and make friends with strangers through her blog, which I found quite odd. My view on that has now changed.

    Fact: it’s not often I begin the night with a handshake and end it two hours later with a hug. And when I say not often I’m pretty sure I mean never. So also new territory for me.

    Fact: it’s been long enough since I’ve been inspired by someone’s courage, honesty, and genuine kindness that I sort of expected it to never happen again. Once more, I was proven wrong.

    Just as a venomous negative comment often reveals more about the speaker himself rather than his target, kind words are a testament to the author’s own selflessness, and in this respect I’m glad to accept them all 🙂 Looking forward to our next stroll.

    • Aw, Corey … I’m deeply touched by your very kind words. Merci mille fois, from the bottom of my little heart. (And right back at you, on all counts. I think you’re wonderful and extraordinary and warm and kind and brilliant and very witty — and a whole bunch of other superlative adjectives.) I’m so grateful we met — and I’m very much looking forward to our next stroll!

      PS: I still can’t get over your perfect French. Damned impressive. But then, so are you.

    • PS: I just noticed that I misspelled your name in my post. Desolée! The fact that you didn’t give me a terrible time about it is another sign of how very gracious you are, Mr. Frey. I mean, Frye. [Embarrassed grin.]

      • No worries about the name spelling; you’ll still have dibs on that future editor’s job when the time comes 🙂

        Btw, I just saw a headline: “Ryan Gosling & Eva Mendes’ Parisian Date”. How embarrassing — it seems they mistook you and I for Ryan and Eva the other night as we strolled the Seine. Should we just let them run the story anyway?

        • *WHEW!* I thought I’d lost that (gratis) editing job, for sure! 🙂

          And yeah … I think we should let them run the Gosling and Mendes story, in spite of the identity mix-up. I can totally see how it would happen — you and I look so much like them. Ha, ha!

          Thanks for ending my day with a big smile, Corey.

  3. Must have been a lovely meeting, H.
    Just think how casually we look at the doors at Notre Dame without knowing the backstory of the ironwork. Wow!
    Great story as well about the flying buttress, which I looked at so admiringly. Thanks, H & Corey for the lesson.

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