A trip to Paris, sounds so very ‘ooo -la la’. Even saying it brings to mind images of biting into delicious, buttery, flaky croissants and sipping a glass of wine in a small, crowded cafe.
Paris became a dream for me after I spent a semester abroad in Italy during college. That summer, upon returning home, I taught at a summer camp in Madison, NJ. I'll never forget Daphne, a little nine year old girl who had moved from Paris. For the short three months of summer, sweet Daphne taught me a few words of French. I immediately fell in love with the gorgeousness of ordinary words -- fille for girl, papillon for butterfly, lundi for Monday. Somehow learning French became almost instantly about going to Paris, home of Madeline and of the boy with the red balloon. I made it my mission to get there.
Many people ask me what I love about Paris. In short, I feel like I come alive. I can be my true self. Upon arriving, my eyes light up and I feel like I am in the moment, almost every moment. I find myself taking in every detail and making a mental memory. I think there is something about Paris that forces me to be mindful, to be completely immersed in what I am seeing and doing. Truly, in no other place am I more “in tune” with my surroundings.
I have learned that Paris is most rewarding when you simply make it your own and perhaps embrace the quintessential lifestyle of the Parisians, la joie de vivre. Many have told me that they were disappointed by Paris, which naturally makes me sad because I think it is so wonderful. I think a lot of people must find it overwhelming as the city is so full with history and culture. Checking off the major landmarks by making a mad dash to the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame, and Sacré-Cœur can be exhausting. However, I hope you take from this post that it is entirely okay if you don’t see those things. Eating a fresh croissant in bed at ten in the morning gazing out your window over a sea of grey-blue rooftops can be just as rewarding.
Paris has a way of captivating you and making you fall in love with it's bright lights and charming personality. I have listed 10 reasons to love Paris and I invite you to share yours.
1. Magnificent Views: Breathtaking panoramic views of Paris are always exciting to discover. Luckily, Paris is full of them, offering undisputed satisfying thrills.
2. Cobblestone Streets: A stroll in Paris and a cobblestone street go together like peanut butter and jelly, you can’t have one without the other. The beautiful amber glow of the sun setting on the ancient cobblestone is by far one of the most beautiful sights to witness. Make sure to stroll along on the Left Bank where you can find the oldest tree in Paris planted in 1601, and where Ernest Hemingway once sat and wrote while drinking his favorite mixed cocktail, absinth and champagne.
3. Cafés on Every Corner: The first café in Paris opened in 1672 and the most famous of all of them is the Café Procope which opened in 1686. Café Procope still exists today, during its earliest years it was a meeting place of the French Enlightenment; i.e. Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot. If you are not a coffee drinker try the famous hot chocolate at Angelina's on Rue de Rivoli.
4. The Eiffel Tower Sparkles: A famous icon of France and the world, the eiffel tower is adorned with golden lights that sparkle for 5 minutes every hour on the hour, every evening. Each time it sparkles, I feel breathless. It truly is a sight to be seen.
5. Cultural Hub: Paris possesses a rich and attractive cultural scene spanning the performing arts (see below), activities, festivals, expositions, art galleries, art shops and 250 museums. Notable cultural attractions are these emblematic museums; Le Louvre, Le Musée Picasso, Le Musée Rodin, and Le Musée d' Orsay which hold regular exhibitions and events.
6. Picnics Along the Seine: Grab your picnic basket filled with French delights such as saucisson, baguette, wine, cheese, fresh fruit and veggies and eat like the Parisians do on the banks of the Seine while enjoying the spectacular views.
7. Fantastic Cuisine: Whether it's a bistro, modern French restaurant, or haute cuisine, you can't go wrong with the food selection. Check out this list by Conde Nast on the top 50 best restaurants in Paris.
8. Trendy Fashion: We can’t talk about Paris without mentioning the amazing fashion. The term ‘trendy’ has become so ubiquitous in contemporary culture that in Paris, fashion trends transition frequently given the numerous and ultra glamorous fashion shows that are held each year, Paris Fashion Week anyone?! Make sure to take a walk down Rue Saint-Honoré which offers a never ending assortment of fashion!
9. Home to Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel: Speaking of fashion, Paris is home to the one and only Coco. While you are there take a walk to the original store at 31 Rue Cambon and perhaps buy yourself something special! Trust me, you won't regret it!
10. The Performing Arts: This may be one of my favorite things to do of all time... take in a performance at the Opéra-Garnier. Not only is this one of Paris’s most beautiful buildings, there are concerts, ballets, and operas performed throughout the year.
“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, in dimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” –Pico Iyer, novelist and essayist
Photos were taken with a Fuji Film Camera or IPhone. Cover Photo was taken by Catherine O'Hara, Photographer based in Paris, France