Travel Tales

Paris, Here I Come

Just before the holidays, a dear, generous aunt shared over dinner that she had a trip to Paris planned for March, including an extra bed available in the Airbnb apartment booked for the week.

I had my ticket to the City of Lights confirmed practically before the day was out.

The last time I was in Paris was over a decade ago for a whirlwind 36 hours. I was abroad for the very first time, visiting a friend in England and I took advantage of my student status to book a cheap train to France, figuring I didn’t know when I’d be that close to the Eiffel Tower again.

And while they’re 36 hours I still remember vividly today – Mona Lisa at The Louvre, a walk through Notre Dame and of course, plenty of photos with the Eiffel Tower – I’m not sure I can properly articulate just how much I’m looking forward to this upcoming extended trip.

A lot. I’m looking forward to it a lot.

I’ll be there for a solid 10 days, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll enjoy a lovely mix of unabashed tourist-centric sightseeing and hours on end wiled away in cafes, reading, writing and sipping lattes while Paris bustles by around me.

I leave Chicago on a Friday evening, flying overnight to Reykjavik where, after a very quick layover it’s on to Paris, set to arrive around 10am local time. (Funny to think that this is now my second time visiting Iceland!) From there, I’ll find my way to the studio in Montmartre I’ve booked, where I’m staying a couple of nights until I meet up with my aunt on Monday. We’ll connect and transfer to our home for the week in the 15th Arrondissement, the other side of the Seine.

With three months to plan, I’ve long sorted my Must Dos, which include a tour of Versailles (even though the timing means the grounds won’t be in bloom), a day in Champagne sipping bubbly, and visits to no fewer than three or four different museums: a good long day wandering The Louvre, plus Musee d’Orsay, Musee de Rodin and more.

Also pre-planned is a Wednesday afternoon class at La Cuisine Paris, two hours learning to make macarons. You see, I love macarons; they are just the most lovely delight, with their rainbow colors and airy flavors! When I was in NYC, there was a macaron shop just a few blocks from my office, and on particularly stressful days (or my birthday!), I’d walk over to get a few and enjoy them and an iced coffee at Madison Square Park nearby. How could I pass up the chance to learn to make these edible French joys while in Paris?

Beyond that, I have a laundry list of ideas from wonderful friends and contacts who’ve been recently (and one actual Parisienne!) – additional museums and sights, and also cafes, shopping, cocktails and more, all worth carving out time to see and enjoy. One friend even shared his personalized Google Map from a trip he and his wife took recently! Like my last trip abroad in 2015, I imagine several of the days will be planned no further in advance than the night before, deciding among us what we’re most looking forward to and plotting out each day only as they come.

And in between, if each day brings a quiet moment or two to take it all in – a sunny afternoon for a walk along the Seine or a rainy day spent in a warm cafe – then I’ll consider the whole endeavor a success indeed.