Paris is called the city of love so often and I resisted the idea that it would charm me. I felt like it was way too cliche and I just wouldn't let it happen to me!
Why Paris really is the City of Love
But it did and here's why: The Parisian way of life lulls you into a romantic dream. But as I type this, Paris still has a piece of my heart. Not because of the romantic architecture and chic street styles. If you're not there long enough, that will likely be all you have time to remember. No, Paris stole my heart because of it's lifestyle.
It was here in Paris, after almost a month of travel, that we finally found a routine we loved. It was in Paris that the structured French ways made us feel relaxed and at the same time free to explore this historic city.
We stayed in a 5th floor walk up (and herein lies the case for fitting everything into a carryon. I so wish I had done this! But what a great workout!!) in the enchanting and walkable Le Marais district. As we unpacked in our tiny but beautiful artist loft, I noticed that we were above a courtyard containing 6 cafes. 'What. We're never going to sleep," I thought.
But our first night there, we opened the windows and the soft sounds of conversation, clanking glasses, and laughter actually lulled me to sleep. I listened to Nora Jones amid the sounds of life below me and held Stephen's hand and asked him "Could life really be any better?" It seemed perfect.
Our evening aperitif routine
Throughout our trip, we hadn't quite grasped the idea that dinner was later than in America. We were always the first ones waiting for the doors to open at a restaurant and would eat alone. We knew it in our heads, but hadn't found a way to adjust. Finally, in Paris, everything clicked! We had the happiest routine of finding fresh croissant in the morning at the nearest patisserie, then setting out for a day of wandering the winding, shop-laden streets of Le Marais, St. Germaine, and Canal St. Martin, then seeing some key attractions, like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero, Tuilleries Gardens, and the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.
By the time early evening hit, our feet were so sore that we needed a break. We'd meander back to our Le Marais flat, stopping by our favorite fromagerie, patisserie, and boucherie for cheeses, meats, and some fresh bread for our snack. We'd go back, try new cheeses, do a little work, and take a nap, then change and go out again with the locals for dinner around 8-9 pm.
One foot in the past, one foot in the modern world
It was this slow, meandering way of life, with one foot in the past and one foot in the modern world that won me over. The lifestyle here is forward thinking and modern, but people know when to disconnect. They balance the frenzy of modern connectivity with the charms of a slower, disconnected life.
It was here in Paris that we looked up real estate costs. It was here where we re-evaluated what we truly valued enough to keep in life. (whyyyy do we Americans have SO much stuff??) and it was here where I told Stephen "we have to come back. I'll do whatever it takes to replenish our travel fund."
A Parisian lifestyle of fewer, better things
Paris confirmed things that I already loved in life but didn't know where they fit into my culture. I love a less is more mindset. I love fewer, better things. I adore connecting with people over long, relaxed meals, and I love kindly helping people. All of these loves made perfect sense in the Parisian culture.
While I know that no culture can really be fully assessed in a handful of days, I found myself in Paris. And that won't be the last time we're there. Paris, je'taime.