Walking alongside the Seine with a buttery croissant in hand, the soothing sounds of Francois Hardy playing through my head, and pep in my step because I’m in Paris, one of my favorite cities. Would you have to be crazy to say no to a trip to Paris? I think so, and so did Audrey Hepburn…Paris is always a good idea.
Strolling through Paris by foot is a treat all its own. My eye is drawn up to the ornate architecture, a reminder that Paris has always been in style and the Parisians know it. The Parisian folk, meanwhile, strut by in their fashionable digs as if the whole city is a runway and every week is fashion week. They are effortlessly chic, a model of envy for the fashion-focused around the world.
I don’t know how these Parisian men and women stay thin enough to sport their high-fashion choices, as I feel pressured by the cafes, boulangeries, bakeries, and creperies lining every street. My belly longs for more hand-crafted delicacies, always hungry never satiated. I wonder if the Parisians have a secret. Perhaps if I lived here I would know too. But for now I’m a visitor and I decide to indulge my gourmande inclinations, so I purchase a baguette for my walk. I bite into the flaky exterior and the warm soft inside stops me in my tracks. Deux euros well spent.
As I near the Cathedrale de Notre Dame, I’m daunted by the crowds. Every tourist knows this place, and certainly there are other churches and cathedrals worth marveling over in Paris. Too many to count, in fact. Yet the charm of this place, the enormity of its interior, its permanence in the French history draws me in. Inside, I’m awestruck by the height of the ceilings, the detail of the hand-carved stonework, the bright colors of the stained glass windows, the feeling of humility in this place of worship. I choose a wooden pew that suits my fancy, sitting for a chance to reflect. Here I can clear my head, I feel closer to myself and my morality. Notre Dame is my spiritual recharge. I want this cathedral to always provide this opportunity to people, to inspire awe and wonder, to command respect, so I drop a few euros into the donation bin as I exit.
Ready for a midday cappuccino, I settle in to a corner cafe with a burgundy red exterior, lots of windows with flowered window-boxes, and an open door releasing the smell of pain au chocolat into the streets. The cafe culture in Paris is the stuff of dreams. French language buzzes around my ears, frothy creamy milk over espresso warms my tongue, and I watch people of every variety walking by. My nose is filled with the scents of fresh pastries baking in the kitchen. I don’t think they try to contain the smell, as it has inspired almost every table to order some of the sweets. My hands rest on the marble table atop a curled wrought iron stand, with a copy of Vogue Paris. I feel I am at the center of French culture. Though perhaps I would fit in better if I had done more to brush up on my French. Mais hélas, je suis un étranger par tous les égards.
I suppose it wouldn’t hurt my image any more to pull out my map then. I pencil in the spots I’d like to reach today, and those I will see tomorrow. Paris is so vast and abundantly filled with an infectious culture that draws me in. I will never bore of Paris. It is always a good idea.