There is so much to see, taste, smell, hear…traveling to Paris is a feast for the senses! When my heart over spilled onto the canvas, the art turned out bright and a little crazier than what I normally thought. The movement and robust color bursts came out of a heart that was inspired by the energy, stimulation and excitement all of my senses experienced traveling through this romantic city.
First off, the iPhone turned out to be very capable of taking great pictures to take home with me. Because I was packing light, I opted to leave my large DSLR camera at home. To my surprise I was able to take great pictures with my iPhone 8 plus camera. I wrote more about my experience with the iPhone as my primary camera in this post.
There is so much energy in Paris. Words can’t quite describe the energy of the busy city. Whether I was navigating a subway, moving through the gorgeous train station, walking on a bustling city or touring an iconic Parisian area, there was so many sights, sounds and textures to take in. It all spilled out when I took paint to canvas to try to capture my impression of the city.
This trip was an opportunity to enjoy lingering and not rushing. During my time in Belgium, I was in a group and we had many long meals together in different places. The group guides, Deby and Kirk Dearman, lived in Belgium for 7 years and knew the best places to eat, rest, explore. I spend so much of life being useful, efficient, goal oriented -you too, perhaps?- and I love that, but the trip to Belgium and France taught me the beauty of living life a bit more unhurried.
Paris isn’t just for couples, but I did love seeing all the in-love people. Seeing all the couples, especially the ones posing for photo ops around the Eiffel Tower or other iconic spots was so very romantic. Even though I was single and traveling alone, I didn’t feel awkward. Being around the romance rekindled my heart and hope to have my own romantic story. (we’ll see what happens this year!) It was fun to observe all the different people and activities around me. There are amazing opportunities for people watching in Paris! And the crazy traffic! Wowsers.
It really, really, really helps to know a bit of the language. I know enough Spanish to be a little bit dangerous. I can ask and answer basic things. Partly it’s because I’ve used it on and off for a number of years and developed a little bit of muscle memory. I’d started working on French in preparation for the trip, but there was no muscle memory developed and it didn’t stick! The servers at restaurants wanted so badly to understand me, but they couldn’t! I asked my Airbnb host to write out how to ask for water and ended up showing it to a server who laughed and taught me how to pronounce it. Oh dear. I’m getting a tutor and practicing.
There are kind people everywhere. Kind people are so nurturing. I won’t see them again and wouldn’t remember them if I did, but their kindness touched my heart and made me feel not so far from home.
There were so many kind people…
There was the guy who pointed me to the right train, helping me to not miss the connecting train to Brussels!
In one suburb when I was lost (it happened more than once), three women tried to set me straight. With my very limited French and their very limited English, we didn’t get far, but their kindness and effort touched my heart.
At the hotel I stayed at, I would take my journal to the bar to record what I’d done that day. The handsome bartender patiently let me stare at the menu as I chose a glass of wine and didn’t mind that I sat there for two hours journaling and sipping. He flirted with me a bit, which I really wasn’t used to, but was completely flattered by.
Or the workers in the kitchen store, the one Julia Child shopped in, who patiently answered my questions and let me ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over every last thing and explore every inch of their store. “American?” they asked me? “Yes,” I nodded with the biggest, goofiest smile on my face. Knowing I was in the store Julia shopped in and the fact that it basically looked the same as it did all those decades ago…I was so tickled.
There’s a certain reserved elegance to Paris. Not everywhere, certainly not on some of the streets (the street where the night clubs are featured is quite colorful and loud), but in many places from the cafes to the Paris Opera House to the churches and even the train system, there is a proud elegance in the country, a sense of knowing who they are in the world, even if their world is changing.
Do you remember when the Gwyneth Paltrow character dresses in that cliché French style when she visits Paris in the movie A View From the Top?
That’s how I felt! I pulled out my scarf and wore it proudly. There’s something in France that beckons one to put on the scarf and wear the cute shoes. I didn’t bring heels, but I did bring cute boots and I wore them every day.
A not-so-fun lesson. The anxieties follow you everywhere, even halfway across the world. I knew this logically, but honestly, I thought being somewhere like Paris would make the things occupying my mind at least diminish. It had been about two months since I was laid off my previous job due to a company buy out. The new job really wasn’t going so well. The Paris trip had been planned before I was laid off and the new company okayed the vacation, but, well, all the stuff that was weighing heavy on my mind and heart still weighed heavy in Paris.
The Next Visit
Confession: I didn’t realize how much there was to see and do in Paris and as a result, didn’t plan my time terribly well. I’m used to being able to cover just about everything there is to do in a tourist type area. Take Disneyland for example. With some strategy and a good pair of walking shoes, one can cover both parks in two days.
Or the ocean. Or Lake Tahoe. Many of the vacation destinations I’ve gone to, I didn’t leave feeling like I didn’t do everything I wanted to do.
Not so with Paris. I had two days left and realized I was going to have to pick and choose what I wanted to focus on. I wasn’t going to complete the day list. And I didn’t really want to run around like a frazzled tourist.
Because of the time intensiveness, I made the intentional decision to bypass the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. Advice from people who’ve done it before said one needed at least a day for each. If I did that, I wouldn’t do anything else.
So, on my next trip to Paris, these things are the priority:
- Palace of Versaille
- At least 3-4 days of exploring Paris’ amazing markets: Marche du Livre Ancien et d’Occasion (vintage book market), Marche Paul Bert & Marche Saint-Ouen. Le Louvre des Antiquaires.
- Explore Montemarte (I drove by, but didn’t linger)
- Eat 2-3 leisurley French meals. I was a bit of a run and go girl, stopping at cafes, but not seeking out the food scenes.
How about you? What do you hope to do and see on your next big adventure?
If you’d like to see more of the ‘Beloved: Paris” Art Collection, you can view the shop here.