I Wish I Could Show You Paris

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dear readers, I have to echo Hannah Katherine yet again (and now I understand her post even better)...I wish I could do more than tell you about Paris.

I wish I could show her to you in person.

I wish I could give you the flaky, buttery taste of a pain au chocolat or the sight of French men + women strolling through the streets in their simple but impeccably chic style of suits,  blazers, dresses, well-cut trousers, and always always a beautiful scarf.

I wish you could sit outside one of the numerous cafes that line every street and gaze at the steady stream of people passing. Unlike London, her urban and male counterpart, Paris is stately and dignified in her busyness: even during the busiest time of a workday, while traffic thrums and people walk briskly, the cafe tables + seats on the sidewalks are always filled with the chatter of French, cups of cafe au lait or cappuccinos, and pastry crumbs.

 I wish you could see the lights by the Seine at night, all aglow against the velvet black sky and flickering waves with the magic that is Paris at night. I wish you could feel the cool breeze against your cheek and hear the soft, rich vibrations of jazz while curled up by the river with sparkling Perrier or champagne gently fizzing down your throat.

I wish you could feel the sun's warmth while strolling down the streets of Paris with the sweet scent of chocolate and fruit wafting from the Nutella crepe in your hand. I wish you could feel the softness of springy, plush grass beneath your cheek as you lay in a park, stretched out in the shade of trees with cheese and white wine beside you, with the day warm and bright on your skin.

I wish you could hear, all around you, the sounds of Paris in the summer...the slight breeze rustling through the trees, swirling between patches of cool shade and the bright sunlight gleaming on soft, thick butter-green grass, the melodic thrum of French and laughter rising from the banks of the park where the locals lay enjoying the sun + fresh air, and children's' giggles ring out against the jaunty tune of the carousel and the gurgle of the fountains.

I wish, I wish, I wish.

I can only do my best to put into words what I feel and see and sense here in this beautiful city. And say, that while one can (and should!) dream + read + think about Paris...at some point in your lives, dear readers, you must make your way to this city.

There is no way to properly describe her. Paris can only truly be experienced.

Existing in Paris

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I began writing this post during my first week in Paris...but like most of the personal writing I've done here (shockingly little), it's taken time to finish. I find myself at a loss for words during rare moments of quiet. I think perhaps because the past two and a half weeks have been a flurry of studying French, speaking French, mastering the Metro, trying to think in French, and surviving in a brand new city - in a brand new country. 

Add to that the fact that our schedule has been jam-packed, leaving for little alone time, and I've realized like most dramatic things...you have to let it be. Let it settle inside of you. As Hannah said, sometimes you have to feel it for a while before you can talk about it. 

I've only been in Paris three days (has it really only been three? It feels like a week and then at times only a day) and already, already, I have fallen in love.

She has indeed worked her bewitching charm on me, and I am incredibly delighted and thankful that the substantial amount of friends/acquaintances who spoke disparagingly of Paris, who warned of dissolution were utterly, completely, and totally wrong.

I was warned that it was a dirty city, that the people were unfriendly, that the food was horrible, that everything about the city of lights was essentially a disappointment.

I have never been more happy that so many people were wrong.

As one of the characters in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris says, "That Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me."

As someone who has been from the West Coast (San Francisco) to the East Coast (New York), I've seen my fair share of big cities. And while Paris is so far the only major European one I've visited, it puts all others I have seen to shame.

Urban yet ancient, a metropolis yet charming, filled with the sights and hum of modernity (metro stations, street signs, crosswalks, stores) yet overwhelming with Old-World leisure and beauty. I step out my door and wander throughout the city, and everywhere I look is beautiful architecture, wrought iron balconies, bright blooms spilling out of window flower boxes, striped awnings of cafes, cobblestone sidewalks, bakeries on every corner, massive stone churches rising up next to shops and businesses.

This is Paris.

While pastries are a routine part of life, where one walks everywhere, where meals are savored and enjoyed for more than an hour, where style is simple yet effortless, where fresh air is a requirement for all inhabitants of this city, where bicycles are more common than taxis and cars, where ancient history is only a short stroll or ride on le Metro away.

Notes from Paris: The First Day

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bonjour friends! It's my third day in Paris, and I wanted to share some brief thoughts from my first day in this city. Enjoy + keep on the lookout for more! P.S. The food is as amazing as it looks. I've already eaten my weight in bread. And walked it all off! 

It's half past 9pm here in Paris as I write this on my small French bed. Ratatouille's theme is playing softly in the background, dusk is falling just outside the balcony windows, I've just finished eating dinner with my French host family (Croque Monsieur! Fresh salad with homemade vinegrette! Creamy Brie!) and I still can't believe I am spending my first night in this magical city. 

After weeks and months of feeling surreal, it is finally beginning to sink in that I am in Paris.  

Oh, Paris. 

The world is full of pale dawn, the house is asleep, and yet somehow I can feel the gentle tug...hear Paris's call. She is waiting for me just beyond that window - that magical city of lights and love and of history rich beneath one's foot. Waiting with her sprawling cobblestones and Old World architecture and faded stone walls that have seen so many people come and go, each one with hope in their eyes. 

Paris, I think, is different from any city - there is an undefinable magic in even her name. Paris. A place of dreams and broken hearts, of soul-searching and finding oneself, of breathing in and letting go. 

I am ready for her, in all her Old World charm, and sweltering heat and chilly nights and any + all disenchanting notes of discord found within a big city. 

Something within me can already sense that Paris is kind to me...that she will work her magic on me like so many before, that she is the city in which one can wander lost, hopeful, heartbroken, in love, with friends or a special someone, and even alone. 

Paris's magic, I think, touches all types. 

But 8+ hours of jet-lag and having two days crammed into one are taking their toll on me...so I am off to sleep and sleep. 

Tomorrow marks my first official day of exploring Paris. I'm sure there'll be cafĂ© au lait, croissants, and style a plenty. 

Bonne nuite, mes amies!