I don’t remember exactly when I first started dreaming of going to Paris. Sometime during university I probably watched Amélie and I know I read Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French, all the while completing a theatre degree and studying the likes of Molière, Sartre, Ionesco and Artaud. With influences like that, how could I not want to visit the city of lights?
Then, Paris seemed like a place of perfection. I pictured myself swanning down summer streets wearing Madeline-esque pinafores, taking in art and eating pastries, while absorbing whatever magical quality infuses the water that ensures the French don’t fatten. I certainly had the hair for it: a sharp, dark bob, and a penchant for whimsy to match.
Eight years later, when I finally stepped on a plane bound for Paris, I’d grown out my hair and come down to earth a little bit. I was visiting in January, so swapped my imagined summer dresses for coats and gloves, and with a bit more experience with the great cities of the world under my belt, had tempered my expectations of the magic I would find in Paris.
My trip was nothing short of amazing, though, and as a writer, I found Paris to be a place I immediately felt at home. Housed in a teeny-tiny apartment with my best friend, we packed a huge amount into three days. Even when one ankle started making a weird and painful crunch in protest of walking too much, I couldn’t get enough of the place. Cold, silver, charming and aloof, the Paris of my dreams paled in comparison to the real thing.
Even though so many people I know haven’t enjoyed Paris, I now spend my spare time scheming ways I can return for an extended stay. Below, in images, some of my favourite parts.
I expected parts of Paris to be beautiful, but I didn’t expect the whole city to be so pretty. We didn’t venture a huge distance out in our time there, but I saw enough to let me know that there’s plenty more to see.
Paris at Christmas is so very, very pretty.
Shakespeare and Company
Visiting Shakespeare and Company was such a highlight of my trip, and I picked up some really beautiful books. It might be the most crowded bookshop, but it’s worth the visit.
The friend I traveled with was excited to see The Catacombs, and they did not disappoint. Eerie yet intriguing, and surprisingly warm away from the winter winds, I loved learning about Paris’s history from below.