James Salter in Paris

I realized while I was there that James Salter formed a lot of my notions of Paris when I read his memoir years ago. He describes it in tones both possessive and personal, a place that's all burnished glow streaked with cigarette smoke, grand because it's faded down in that way that makes everyone & everything sad and gorgeous:

I loved you very much. I might say that of Paris; my memories are heaped there. Somehow I was constantly returning—the train gliding through the endless suburbs or in blue air the airplane banking as, face close to the window, I looked down. Far below the fabled city unifies itself, which it will not do when you are within it. The tangled, irregular streets create a kind of anatomy. A city which since Gothic times, as the poet says, has been ever increasing in deformity, and withal retaining more perfection than any other of its class.
— James Salter, Burning the Days