Saturday, November 17, 2012

Paris, Je t'aime

There is a moment in the film Paris, Je T'Aime when Carol (the amazing Margo Martindale) discusses the moment she fell in love with Paris. It goes a little something like this:

Sitting there, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me. It was like remembering something I'd never known before or had always been waiting for, but I didn't know what. Maybe it was something I'd forgotten or something I've been missing all my life. All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness. But not too much sadness, because I felt alive. Yes, alive. That was the moment I fell in love with Paris. And I felt Paris fall in love with me. 

I have never been to Paris but in my heart I know exactly what Carol means. I have been in love with Paris since I was a little girl (oh the cliche I know). I have no idea why I focused so specifically on Paris or even exactly when it happened but traveling to Paris is one of those life dreams/goals that has always been there. Maybe it started when we moved to Louisiana and I started taking French in school (the 4th grade y'all). Of course now my French is terrible (this is what happens when you don't practice).

In my mind Paris is magical and wonderful. I envision twinkling lights, the Eiffel Tower, and smartly dressed Parisian couples walking arm in arm down the Champs Elysee. I will immediately be smarter, funnier, and more interesting the moment I land. Despite the fact that my French is terrible I will be able to order perfectly in every cafe. I will finally understand why people wear scarves unironically. I will master the art of the casual glance and wearing red lipstick without issue.

And so finally I am going to Paris. I've been saying that for years but it's finally happening. This June I will celebrate my 34th birthday in the City of Light. Well not my actual birthday - I'm going a week later. I don't know why it's taken me so long to go. I never imagined that I'd go to Rwanda before going to Paris but maybe that's the way that life is supposed to work. You end up going somewhere when you're supposed to go. Now that I've picked my dates, am about to book my flight, and am still deciding on where to stay, the planner in me has been unleashed. What to do while I'm in Paris?

Do I take a literary walking tour of the Left Bank, stopping to see Paul Verlaine's garret, the original Shakespeare & Company, and many of the haunts of Hemingway? Do I spend the day wandering Pere Lachaise visiting with Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and Oscar Wilde? What about all the markets and cafes and cookware shopping? Did you know that I can go to store upon store and just buy cookware and cookbooks like Julia Child? What about the Eiffel Tower? Shouldn't I see it at sunset and during the day? Is it wrong that I have no desire to go to the Louvre although I know I should probably go? What about Chanel? Do they offer a tour of Paris according to Amelie? That would make my life so much easier. Decisions are the worst.

My other conundrum about this trip is what to wear. Obviously, I need a very comfortable pair of walking shoes and probably something other than jeans. Why can't I just dress like Gwyneth Paltrow in View from the Top? Because I'm not a flight attendant, can't wear hats, and look awkward in yellow. Comfort is important but so is style in the fashion capital of the world.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I have months to plan and ponder and muse about how to spend my Parisian days and what to wear while doing it. For now, I just want to channel Carol and her fanny-pack and her love of Paris. I want to imagine myself sitting in a lovely park enjoying a bright and sunny Paris afternoon. And feel the city fall in love with me as much as I have fallen in love with it.


  1. Sounds like you need a pair or two of black, no wrinkle pants and big sunglasses. See the Eiffel tower at BOTH day and night. All of the cafe staff spoke English (and asked me to stop trying French.) Go to the modern art museum there - one of my favorites.

  2. I'm going to skip the big sunglasses-I have sunglasses that fit my face so Paris will have to deal with it. :)