After a long, stuffy flight on which my ass fell asleep more than I did, my friend Stephen and I finally arrived in Paris. A seasoned traveler and one of my close friends, I was thankful to have him alongside me as I navigated my first border control queue and give me all the ins and outs of international travel. He shared in my excitement when that first stamp hit my passport with a (rather unceremonious) thud.
After picking up our bags, we were greeted by that sweet familiar face we both know – our friend Sophie. Having just made the leap from New York to Paris a few months prior, we were here to visit her and see just how she’s getting on in her new life (for the record: quite well, I’d say!).
On so many levels, this trip carried so much meaning. To visit Sophie, one of our closest friends, and spend time as a group like old times; to support her and hear all about her most recent adventures and what life was like in Paris; a much-needed vacation for both Stephen and I, away from the stressors of work and life obligations; and for me, my first time ever traveling abroad and experiencing a place completely unlike any other place I’ve been. Once we ditched our bags, we went straight for the cobbled streets of the 18th arrondissement and the nearby Sacre-Coeur, it’s gleaming white domes contrasting against the clear blue summer sky and crisp among the muted tones of tourists and locals alike that milled around below it.
Without boring you on a play-by-play of our entire trip, I’ll put it to you this way: Paris is magical. Maybe it’s the fact that Sophie lives there, and my dear friend Moi, too; maybe it’s because it was my first European city I had the privilege to visit. Or maybe it’s Maybelline. Noooo – just kidding! As an architecture buff and designer, I was never bored by my surroundings. Much of Paris remains how I would imagine it to look 50 or 100 years ago, which truly fascinates me. The exterior of the Louvre brought me to tears. The energy was something else: busy for sure – it is a large city after all – but notably slower and more casual than New York (at any point in the day, you’ll notice a full cafe on the corner). I truly enjoyed dusting off my three years of high school French and also learning some new phrases, even if a majority of those we spoke to answered us in English. And the people? Truly, truly wonderful. Such a fun, friendly, and interesting group of people.
To really get into the spirit of the city, there’s so many things one can do. We partook in late nights of dancing and plenty of drinking (at all times of day, let’s be honest here!). The food- oy, the food! Fresh, simple, delicious. But the best way to see Paris – the way I saw most of it- is by foot. Mind you we nearly turned into puddles as the temperature was in the 30s Celsius while we were there most days, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Ok, yes I would… about ten degrees cooler! I also highly recommend an evening river cruise on the Seine; I’ll never forget the Eiffel Tower sparkling, the Notre Dame lit up against the navy summer sky, or the golden glow beaming from the windows of Musée d’Orsay. Not to mention the throngs of young Parisians up and down the Seine, waving to us as they otherwise enjoyed their evening of socialising, playing music, drinking or just plain relaxing among the banks of the river. What a life to live.
Even with all the sights, food, and Grimanche Blanche, Paris truly wouldn’t have been the experience it was without Stephen or Sophie, Moi, or the wonderfully cool French people I met along the way. Proof that you can get out there and see the world, but there comes a point when it’s best to share it and experience it with others.