Thoughts on Paris

The mention of flying to Paris promotes a few swoons and sighs.  It's a city we dream about.

I used to dream of living in Paris.  So much that at 18 I left university after one year to go work as a full-time nanny in the city of love.  It was the one way I could go there and immediately be secured into a job, be provided with a place to stay, and to be fully immersed in French culture.

It was a year of tears, chocolate stains on my shirt, sleepless nights, frustration and growth.  I was often lonely and tired of chasing after two small children who didn't always treat me with respect.  But it taught me a lot and I got to live in Paris.  I tasted every pastry, drank wine in French cafes, bonded with expats, walked along the Seine and midnight and filled an urge deep within my 18-year-old heart.

A few years later I returned for six months to write my guide book.  I left the love of my life in Canada, lived off of very little money, and moved from place to place, spending most of the time with my loving Turkish family who took me in as one of their own.

When we arrive in Paris I'm thinking of all of these things.  As our taxi drives into the city the morning light reminds me of the perfect summer mornings, going to grab a pastry and settling in a cafe with my journal and a cafe creme, my thoughts a mix of teenage angst and wanderlust.

When we wait over two hours for the owner of the apartment to arrive I remember the frustration of living here.  There is a lack of logic and patience is more than a virtue, it's a necessity.  But me and my wanderlust partner, Marisa, settle into a cafe where old men catch up over their morning espresso and the owner serves us with care.

We spend the next six days indulging in Paris.  Three days are partly devoted to working with my mother at the Pret a Porter - helping her choose clothing the fall collection for a boutique in Vancouver. We balance the jet lag, long hours and bright expo lights with the free champagne served to us by the exhibitors.  We all have a lick of lush in is that we don't deny.

We buy plenty of cheap champagne for ourselves, along with a bottle of Cassis, and drink Kir Royal like royalty in our small apartment.  It becomes a nightly ritual before dinner alongside a big plate of stinky cheese.

Our free days are spent walking, stopping through stores, strolling through markets, licking eclairs and macarons off our fingers and taking in as much as we can.  Marisa is constantly with camera in hand, capturing beautiful moments and Parisian life.  She squeals over a Nutella crepe, buys an expensive second hand designer romper, and I'm glad she's my friend.

Marisa and I spend an afternoon in a cooking class, whipping a whole block of butter into a potato puree and poaching a beautiful white cod in a pool of milk.  We eat our meals with locals, a sharp glass of white wine and big grins on our faces.

Some of my favourite moments are spent with my Turkish family.  Eating hummus and eggplant in their restaurant and sipping hot Turkish tea in their home.  They are what I miss most about Paris.  They make me feel loved, safe and comfortable.

The last night we drink Champagne in bed.  For 6 euros we feel like we are drinking something good.

We leave early the next day, again in the morning light, and I remember why so many of us dream of Paris.  It's the architecture, the history, the romance, the stories written and the stories we want to write.