By now, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t published anything about my time in Paris. And now it’s basically Autumn and I was there way back in May. Honestly it’s for two reasons: first, I wanted to get you all hype for my best friend’s upcoming Parisian blog, “The ‘Belle of the 6th” that she’ll be launching very soon; second, trying to find the words to describe Paris have been difficult.
Paris has been a place that I’ve always just written off. I never thought much of it and figured the city was all hype. And while some stereotypes proved to be true (Parisians were not the most welcoming people I’ve ever met), I left with an entirely opposite view of the city. Paris lives up to the hype.
Growing up, I always had mixed feelings about Paris, and France in general. On the one hand, I was raised by an ultra-conservative “Freedom” fry loving, anti-France Italian father who always said we shouldn’t like the French. On the other hand, images of Paris from everything from vintage iconic photoshoots from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to the Olsen twin’s Passport to Paris (I always had a slight crush on the two French boys they ended up dating). Then after watching Midnight in Paris, I knew that Paris was a place I needed to see.
So after my time was up in Milan, I was ready to hop on the hour flight from Malpensa to Orly. This was it – My first time to Paris. My first time to place where I really don’t have a basis of the language. My first time in a place that was one of the most iconic, fashionable places in the world that wasn’t already like home.
In Italy prior, I felt at home. I was comfortable. I really could see myself living and thriving in Milan. Italy is home – and it’s great.
But Paris is new. Paris is exciting. Paris is uncomfortable. Paris is Paris.
While I will argue to the grave that Milan is a more important fashion capital than Paris, I am not close minded to the city or the French. Though some did prove the rude stereotype true, I truly admire the French aesthetic and way of life. From an age of decadence when the kings reigned from Versailles, through the era of Victor Hugo’s Les Mis through the 1920’s setting for Midnight in Paris up until today.
Paris was everything I was hoping for and more.
I got lost in the Marais. I stumbled upon a farmer’s market in the Bastille. I found Oscar Wilde’s tomb at Père Lachaise cemetery. I fell even more in love with some of my favorite Van Gogh paintings at Orsay. I was taken aback by the entrancing beauty of Monet’s Water Lilies. I saw a thousand tourists crowd the Mona Lisa. I watched the lights sparkle on the Tour Eiffel each night. I listened to the bells chime at Notre Dame. I stumbled through my nonexistent French as I tried to order dinner. I went to the Moulin Rouge. I took a selfie at Sacre Cœur. I pretended to be Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon and Louis the XIV at Chateau Versailles. I felt claustrophobic in the Catacombs. And I ended my time in Paris by staring at 360 views of the city in the fog on top of the Arc de Triomphe.
I ate endless croissants and crepes. I drank countless bottles of wine and champagne. I tried the local faire – and snuck in a burger at the right moment from March Jacob’s and Christian Louboutin’s favorite restaurant.
What I didn’t expect about Paris was to not only fall in love with this city, but learned that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. When you’re given the opportunity to be in one of the most historical, beautiful, important cities in the world, seize the opportunity to get lost, discover the beauty, learn, breathe, reflect, wander, stare, dance, excel, love and live. Discovering Paris by myself lit the fire under my ass to really push myself in the direction I want to go in life.
Paris taught me to live.