Falling in Love with Paris: A Wayfarer's Guide
By: Helena Souders
“I love Paris in the springtime
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles”
~ I love Paris by Ella Fitzgerald
I don’t remember the exact moment that I decided that I wanted to make learning French and living a France part of my adventure, but I do remember that I vowed to myself sometime during my adolescence that one day I would study in France.
As I entered high school I started taking French classes in preparation for my dream. As I learned the language a fell into a deeper enchantment with the idea of one day spending a long period of time in France and particularly visiting Paris.
And so, the time came. Three years into college and a cumulative 4 years of French courses I took the plunge. I delayed graduation by a year, said “goodbye for now” to my family, and dove into the unknown yet somehow familiar world of the French. The school I chose to go to was in the most picturesque French country side. The location was Collonges-Sous-Salève. This little town is nestled within the Alps and a short 15 minute walk to the border with Geneva, Switzerland. It was love at first site.
As my year in France came to a close I knew deep within my innermost workings that one day I had to be back and that this time I had to live in Paris.
And so, I patiently went through my last year of college, worked in the corporate world for a year and half and then decided to resign my job and just go. #YOLO ;)
In July of 2011 I subscribed into a website that matches families with Au Pairs. By my third day on the site I had found the family I wanted to live with in a suburb of Paris with a view of the Eiffel tower from the house and just a short train ride into Montparnasse. On January of 2012 I was off.
As soon as I arrived in Paris I started walking her streets again and willingly getting lost in order to discover her hidden secrets and gems. I made friends and let the city capture my heart again. As time went by I learned all the ins and outs. The cheap but delicious places to have food. Which markets had good deals. The most delicious bakery at the corner of the RER station that led me to Versailles. What point exactly in Montmartre revealed her majesty La Tour Eiffel. The most delicious bohemian Brazilian food restaurant in the 11em arrondisement. The best reading nook at Île de la Cité. The best views of Paris. And the quietest spots of my soul. However, in my journey of falling in love with Paris the most important thing I learned is not only that travel changes you as you visit place to place, but that it is indispensablefor the “becoming an independent adult” process to make a home away from home.
"In a place like Paris, the air is so thick with dreams they clog the streets and take all the good tables at the cafes." --Jeremy Mercer
One month into my arrival it was time to visit Paris—The City of Love—The
City of Lights—The City of My Dreams.
My first sighting of the most iconic French monument was at night. She was dressed in blue to celebrate the anniversary of the formation of the European Union and she was exquisite. I was in complete awe at the sight of La Tour Eiffel. As I walked the streets of Paris discovering her enchantment I was trying to figure out how one city could be so poetic in her architecture. There was no one particular answer—it just was.