Well, Paris, I told you I'd be back.
Last time it was 2009 and I was a college student on her way to study and live in Italy for the summer (major sigh of love there). I admit we didn't have the time we needed together then, 3 days only to then hop down to Nice, France... but it was enough to make me realize I wanted to return.
This time was very different but some things were exactly as I had left them 8 years ago. Your May weather still warmed me during the day, and beckoned a sweater at night. Your art still took my breath away. It was like being back in my favorite Art History classes all over again. The pieces you think are small are larger than anything you think any human could paint, and the ones you imagined to be grand were tiny and intimately framed in gold.
Your people were still just as friendly and ready to chat with me as I mustered up all the French I knew. They smiled, laughed, practiced their English, and did not hesitate with recommendations.
Of course, the food was still delicious and inspiring. The attention to flavors and detail - just the general commitment to excellence from tiniest cafe to an overcrowded bistro. If nothing else, the extra time on this trip to sample all the traditional and inventive culinary ways you, Paris, are known for was worth it. (And I definitely discovered a sweet tooth I swore I did not have).
What was new, were all the little things I explored and did when I didn't feel in a hurry. Getting to spend time cooking in a typical (non AC'ed) Parisian apartment, how affordable produce and wine and bread was at all the lovely bustling markets, wandering into new museums during rainstorms, searching for the best coffee spots, sitting in les jardins and watching all the people pass by, taking a train out of the city for some quiet repose, I could go on.
One thought on safety this time around... traveling in a big city that has been a target of recent terror... this was my first time back in Europe where I felt that weight. There was a greater presence of officers and a sense of awareness for your surroundings. While I was paying more attention to that, I was also paying more attention to how the people of France were living, and I personally did not see a lot of change in the details - life was still happening, people were still enjoying their charcuterie on the street, gathering at parks, buying eggs at the market. It was good. It was hopeful. It was heartening. I believe in pressing on, not living from fear, and hoping for the best.
Anyway, some gratitude: Thank you Paris for inspiring me in art, food, culture, etc. Thank you Scott's Cheap Flight deals for helping me get there round trip for under $550. (Check him out you won't regret it). Thank you friends for buying me a sketchbook, encouraging me to explore and get lost and for recommending amazing restaurants and activities.
Currently, I am in the process of processing all my film from the trip, which is where the true image gold lies. I will be sharing those soon in a Part II :)
p.s. flip through this below to see some instax photos of the trip!