I met a lovely woman who is taking a trip to Paris this summer with her significant other. Immediately, I was excited for her because, little did she know, she is about to embark on a journey that will change her perspective of the world.
My eyes widened as the word, "Paris" left her mouth.
The good thing about face to face conversations, is that you can see the facial expressions of the person you are conversing with. This woman was able to see the eagerness on my face, which made her equally enthused. I ended up confessing my deep affection for Paris to her, and thankfully she was all ears.
As we were both going our separate ways, I told her that I would contact her and give her more information on what to do and where to go. While I want this woman to truly experience Paris on her own terms, crossing the big pond can be stressful and nerve-racking, more so when there is a language barrier involved.
This got me thinking about my next trip to Paris, whenever that would be (hopefully someday soon). Since I already have a feel for the city itself and have seen most of the tourist attractions, I want to focus more on the culture and organic Parisian lifestyle. I want to take time to smell the peonies and wear a beret or a trendy scarf. I want to have the most perfect picnic in the Jardin du Palais Royal with pink macarons or a baguette and a bottle of wine.
However, there are five things I would do differently the next time I travel to Paris:
1. I would stay in the city center.
When I traveled to Paris in July of 2017, I stayed at the Generator Hostel. I have no complaints about my accommodations, however, the hostel was outside of the city. I had to take the metro each time I wanted to go to any points of interest. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I learned the metro system rather quickly, but just out of preference, I would rather be in the city to save time. I would probably try and look for a hotel or an Airbnb next time; preferably an apartment overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
2. I would travel with a friend or significant other.
As a solo traveler, I really enjoyed my freedom. It was enticing; doing what I wanted, when I wanted. There was no one to wait around for or slow me down. On the flip side, I went to the bar and ate many meals by myself. I had to be extra cautious of my surroundings. I didn't get to be in a lot of the photos I took unless it was a selfie. Traveling solo gives a sense of solitude and sets up great opportunities to meet other people, but next time I go to Paris I want to share my favorite place with someone I care about and get some sweet candids!
3. I would eat inside the Eiffel Tower.
I spent a whole day gazing at the Eiffel Tower, but never went up or inside it. At the time, I chose to visit Notre Dame Cathedral, climb the almost 400 steps, and view the Eiffel Tower from afar. This time, I want to go inside the tower and enjoy some authentic french cuisine. Plus, if I’m not traveling alone, I will have someone to enjoy it with.
4. I would rent a vespa.
Or at least ride on the back of one. I saw many vespas (scooters) while I was in Europe and wanted to try one out but didn’t think I was ready yet. I was still getting my bearings, so I stuck to walking and taking the metro. I don’t know how good I would be at driving a vespa, but it would be quite the experience I think! This would be something I might try once and take it from there.
5. I would learn French (more fluently) and converse with locals.
When I was in Paris the first time, I was only able to speak basic French. It was enough to get me by, but wasn’t enough to be fully engaged in the linguistics or culture of France. I would love to be able to communicate in French and form friendships with the locals. In doing so, I would hope to get a better experience of the city from a local’s point of view, whether that is eating where locals eat or participating in activities that Parisians are most interested in. I wouldn’t mind traveling to other parts of France either, and experiencing France without all the tourists and tourist attractions.
I will never forget my first time in Paris, and for all that, I am looking forward to another adventure sometime in the near future.