I have only been once before. I was on a university visit with my Art foundation course back in 2006. All we did was find the nearest bar and drink wine….you know, because France is known for their wine, so we were inevitably being cultured, no? We also visited the Eiffel tower. Someone told me that if you were to stand underneath it as someone were to drop a two pence piece from the top, it would kill you. I had seen enough.
This time was different.Maybe it was the clear skies, or maybe it was my clear mind.
I marched through the cobbled streets dappled with a warm glow, carrying my backpack and dragging along my case. I was so desperate to arrive at my hotel; Hôtel Brittany. There was a rising glow of excitement within me that replicated the Parisian streets.
I introduced myself to the concierge desk with the help of my GCSE in French. He smiled with sympathy.On my journey to Paris, I experienced a surge of panic. Regret. What had I done? Why am I doing this? I’m on my own?! Was I capable of this whole thing, or has this become an out of control facade that I conjured up?
I’m not even joking; as soon as I dropped my bags into that hotel room (which may I add, was trés magnifique), and relieved myself from their weight, I felt the weight of my worries and anxiety offload themselves too.
What a beautiful hotel too. Smack bang in the centre of 9th arr. Hôtel Brittany was such a fantastic place to stay. The gentleman at reception was so inviting, and the décor boasted a shabby chic vibe. Oh, and they also have a celebrated whisky and cocktail bar downstairs which is renowned for their concoctions…never was a fan of whiskey. Thankfully.
I practically floated out of the hotel room, and glided through Monmatre. I felt so free. For the first time, I had no expectations, no time limits, no self-set curfew, and especially no desire to run to the nearest bar for a ‘treat’.
I couldn’t help but smile as I climbed up the bustling brick promenade towards Sacre Coeur. I got the the top, and I restrained myself from reenacting the iconic scene in Rocky…(never seen it).
Being able to stroll is somewhat alien to me…I never stroll. Whether it is a trip to the supermarket, or a walk through the house, I somewhat march. Some would even say strut…I strolled the streets of Paris like a lady of the night; offering smiles to the passers by for absolutely no charge whatsoever. I couldn’t help myself!
As well as strolling, I actually sat down and ate something. Can you imagine? I got dressed up, and took myself out for dinner…alone. I noticed a lot of Parisians doing just that during my time in Paris; spending time on their own. No one questioning it. If I were to do this in London, I feel as though I would need to drape myself in a protest sign declaring my sanity and safety; ‘THIS IS OK! I am ok, I’ve chosen to do this. I am not lonely. I am happy. Thank you…pass the ketchup‘.
The next day I had chocolate cake for breakfast. Who was the stop me? No one! Funnily enough, I didn’t either! I have a tendency to put myself down, or lace my choices with doubt or disappointment.That morning, I was prepared to lick the plate clean without a roll of the eyes. No disappointment from me monsieur, none at all. I was free to lick the plate. I didn’t.
I sought out to find this cafè called ‘Merci‘. It’s structure is almost built around books. It’s aesthetically delicious, just like the cake.
The day was spent prowling around Paris; cruising through the cultural charms, which really does live up to its reputation of the ‘City of Love’.
I met a guy in Paris called Abraham. He was originally from Dublin and moved to Paris two years ago in order to peruse his film writing career. We decided to meet up again that evening during my last night in Paris.
Abe told me about his requited love for Paris, and the unrequited love that he has for the Parisian men. For someone so creative, animated and sociable, I found this hard to believe.We chatted over crepes and ice cream as we revisited Sacre Coeur, which was now lit up against the black sky. Very dramatic. As we sat there, under the moonlight, I couldn’t help but reference the film ‘Midnight in Paris’, and how I was somewhat expecting a visit from a car to transport me back in time. If you are yet to watch it; watch it. Thank me later.
Abe confessed his lack of luck with love whilst living in the city…of love. Apparently, everyone that he has spoken to are obsessed with the aspect of love and interview you and your past relationships like a resumé. If you don’t have much experience then sorry, you’re not qualified enough for the position. Weird. Either that, or how men are infatuated with the idea of love, but when it comes down it, they can’t commit; ‘A dog is not only for christmas’ springs to mind.
This had me thinking (Yes, my very own Carrie Bradshaw moment), are people approach love in this way because of how Paris is percieved, or is Paris percieved like this due to the people’s approach to love? I am unsure. All I know is that Paris could melt even the coldest of hearts, so stay clear if you’re a sucker for romance.
Check out Abe’s work. He is currently writing new material based on his own experiences of love within Paris…I look forward to seeing the ending…I hope it is a happy one.
As I sit here in the airport, with a mere four hours to kill, I feel so grateful for my time and experiences in Paris. I learnt that it is ok to enjoy your own company; the people that question it are the ones who are uncomfortable with being on their own.
I have learnt that ‘home‘ is a word which is used to label a place which offers you comfort, warmth, belonging, and security. If you can feel those things within, then you can feel at home wherever you may go.
Now for New York City…You are next!So many places to recommend. Each image below will direct you to more information on the locations suggested, including the ones already mentioned!
- Café des Deux Moulins (‘The’ cafe from the film ‘Amelie’)
- Cafe Buci (due to the fact of its location, amazing food, scenic outdoor seating where you’re immersed within the hustle and bustle of Paris, and one of the best non-alcoholic beer I’ve tried.