On your travels, have you found that one place that you will revisit when you can even if it is years between trips? I found that place when I visited Paris for the first time in 2001. I didn’t fall in love with the city for the language because I can’t speak French. I didn’t fall in love with the city for the occasional rude person since I only ran into a few of them during my time there. I fell in love with the city for other reasons.
- Seeing Paris for the first time with others who were seeing it for the first time as well and sharing our love for the city together.
- Getting lost as we were mere blocks from the Hotel Andre Gill but not caring that we were lost; part of the adventure was finding our way again.
- Eating a baguette and drinking from a bottle of wine shared on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur as the view of Paris from the top of those steps awaited us.
- Running into a couple of guys from California, of all places, in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, as we tried to find Jim Morrison’s grave. For those of you who don’t know who he was; he was part of the group The Doors.
- Finding his grave after the caretaker showed us the way and then all of us heading to a cafe for lunch before we said good-bye to our new friends from the cemetery.
- Walking for miles from the hotel as we wound our way to the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower and having fun along the way.
- Staying out late at night; making our way to cafe after cafe and meeting new people along the way including a Frenchman, Liam, who joined us for drinks.
- Sitting at cafe’s and people watching.
These were a few of the reasons why I fell in love with this magical city. They are why I don’t have a problem visiting it again and again if my friends and family want to see it for the first time.
As for the few reasons that could have stopped me from falling in love with Paris but didn’t; you will always find language barriers and rude people wherever you go. They are not subject to only one country or one city. They are everywhere. So those two things aside didn’t sway my love for this city.
It took me a couple of years before I made it back to Paris. I didn’t go to the city on my own this time around. I took my mom with me since she had wanted to see it. On this visit, I found more reasons to love the city. Not that I didn’t already have a long enough list of ‘reasons why I love Paris’ from my first visit in 2001.
- Staying at the Hotel Saint Paul Rive Gauche since it was more off the beaten path and not in the middle of everything. Loved the family run feel of it compared to the chain hotels that you see everywhere.
- Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and seeing all of Paris from this vantage point.
- Ordering chicken sandwich in French and attempting to say anything in French so we could make our way around the city.
- Being the tour guide and showing my mom around the city that I love and seeing it again for the first time through someone else’s eyes
- Taking the L’Open Bus Tour around the city for the day and hopping on and off the bus at the different stops along its route.
- Walking through the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and realizing how small the painting really is behind the glass case that holds it. I thought it would be bigger than it was. Being able to take a photo of the Mona Lisa since I thought that would be one painting off-limits to photographs. Realizing it wasn’t off-limits since it is behind glass that helps it not fade.
- Seeing Notre Dame Cathedral but have yet to see the gargoyles sitting a top it up close.
- Finding a street vendor selling crepes and ordering my first chocolate crepe.
It would be ten years before I would see the sights and sounds of Paris again. Like my last visit in 2003, I didn’t travel to the city on my own. I took my nieces with me since one of them had graduated from high school and this was one city she had wanted to visit. Again I was as fascinated with it as I was the first time I stepped foot in Paris. More reasons of ‘why I love Paris.’
- Staying at the Hotel du Louvre for a couple of nights since one of my nieces works at the Hyatt in Monterey and was able to get us a room there.
- Walking around Paris at night; getting lost but finding our way back to the hotel on our own. Seeing different sights along the way.
- Ordering Croque-Monsieur for the first time at the restaurant down the street from the hostel where we were staying. It isn’t your typical grilled ham and cheese sandwich. It is topped with bechamel sauce or the one I ordered was topped with grilled cheese besides the cheese that was melted inside the bread. It was by far one of the best sandwiches I had ever had.
- Eating chocolate croissants and baguette’s whenever we wanted which was often since we were in Paris.
- Trying Escargot for the first time and liking it.
- Shopping along Champs-Élysées.
- Getting lost when we got off the train at Gare du Nord as we tried to find our hostel. Being stopped by a Frenchman asking us if we needed help with directions. He helped us get on the right track to finding out where we needed to go.
- Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night. Walking along the edge of this one section where my niece decided she wanted to get a better view of the tower, her hanging down from the side as my other niece and I couldn’t stop laughing at the sight of her and her camera.
- Taking my nieces to some of my favorite places i.e. Sacré-Cœur and Pere Lachaise Cemetery where we finished our lunch. Yes, we ate while we were walking in the cemetery!
There is still much left to see of Paris that I haven’t seen yet. I have only scratched the surface of what this city has to offer. There are all the parks and gardens I have yet to see. All the trails I have yet to run through. All the sights I might have missed that are more off the beaten path. What city holds that special place in your heart? Is it because of the people you met and they helped make that place special for you? Was it the food you ate that you couldn’t get anywhere else? Was it the art and history of the place you were visiting that tugged at your heart and made you want to visit it again? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.