I want to tell you about my experiences in Paris to stay in positivity. My experience is quite small in the scheme of things, but one light attached to thousands more might occupy the darkness.
I don’t claim to be an expert on Paris, by any means! My introduction to the city started in the early 1980’s when I spent the summer traveling through Europe. My best friend and I landed at Charles deGaulle in the early morning after a flight that included completely redoing our hair, changing our clothes and putting on full makeup cause… well you know, we were 19 and landing in PARIS.
We stood at the top of an airport escalator looking completely lost with no idea of where to go. I heard my Dad’s voice advising us, “Don’t look lost, even if you’re lost. Look like you know where you’re going.” We somehow found our way to the streets of Paris but pretty much stayed lost for three days, having a wonderful time. We never even saw the Eiffel Tower before we boarded a train for Nice.
If you’ve ever been to Paris, you know what I mean. The streets are either large and wide, or very small and winding with lots of twists and turns. A map was no use at all. We ended our trip in Paris six weeks later a bit more astute and spent our last pennies on a room with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Since that time, I’ve had countless trips to Paris. I worked as a global marketing director for a French company headquartered there.
Paris is a beyond-beautiful city made up of neighborhoods, all vibrant and sparkling in their own way. I had the pleasure of staying in the semi-sleepy 8th arrondissament near the Arc de Triumphe most of the time. I love this area of the city, quaint and friendly, with gems to be found everywhere. I walked often on the jogging trail in the small Parc Monceau. This enclave became my home away from home. I knew the bakery, coffee shop, and café I liked best; I even knew where the laundromat was!
The buildings are old and ornate, and just plain beautiful. On many trips, I’d come home with lots of photos of random buildings. Big stone buildings with marvelously romantic floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the street are a vision at every turn. The ornate wrought-iron balconies, sculpted corners and stairways displaying elegance and style, while the routines of home life happen inside; within the hustle and bustle of the city. Each and every time I arrived in Paris, I noticed its beauty.
And who could think about Paris without thinking about the croissants?! Oh my, the warm croissants and café au lait every morning…and then those filled with chocolate! Yes, bread in Paris is fresh and delicious. It is commonplace to see men walking home from work, in their sharp suits, holding long baguettes of bread for delivery to the dinner table.
After long days of work, I preferred to go to my neighborhood cafe with colleagues for goat cheese salad, french fries and red wine. It became a joke, and then a staple for our meals! A perfect dinner in Paris. The cafes are prepared for outdoor seating in every season; with heaters, and heavy plastic walls that allow everyone to sit and watch the passersby.
I have met so many friends there… Friends that took me into their homes, or to museums, or to cooking classes…and so much more. I got to see the largest Monet exhibit ever compiled. I got to meet players from Roland Garros, the French Open. I got to treat my niece to a cruise on the River Seine. I found “my” yoga studio and laughed that only in Paris would yogis jump into class after finishing their cigarettes…and there was so much more.
I love the French women’s style that includes almost anything pulled together perfectly and stylishly; mixing colors and textures and scarves and boots.
Once the metro workers in the city were on strike. It took hours to get to the office. I arrived totally frustrated and very late, but a colleague who had experienced the same commute told me, “We’re French, we just roll with it and keep going.”
I know this is much more serious than a strike, the horror Parisians are experiencing now, but I do know they will continue to roll with it, keeping fear at bay, and they’ll keep going. We must.