Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breathe

I walked nearly 20 kilometres today stopping only once to eat a buttery crêpe sucre from a kiosk in Le Jardin des Plantes.  I wanted to absorb Paris, tire my body out and hopefully slow my brain down.  During the last couple of days, my thoughts have started to stray from Paris and get tangled up in pointless worries.  

My morning seat at Les Berges overlooking the Seine.  That's my beaten up Longchamp tote with my notebook.  Don't you love how the loungers are made for two?  Hurry up, Chris!
I am not a relaxed person and I am always looking forward, with both trepidation and excitement, to the next opportunity or challenge.  I worry equally about successes or failures.  So I knew in coming here alone that staying in the moment - so many beautiful moments! - would be my biggest struggle.   At first it wasn't; I breezed through the first five weeks like a professional flâneur, barely looking at my watch, exploring every little side street and literally stopping to smell Paris' vibrant, plush roses.  I was taking Paris in slowly and carefully and in many way I felt like I was seeing the city for the first time.

Roses at Les Jardins des Plantes
But something snapped on Sunday.  I read a Tweet from one of my favourite travel web sites that listed things you "MUST" do in Paris this summer, including the Louvre and taking a day trip out of the city.  I started to panic about what I haven't done, the sites I haven't seen, the meals at restaurants I haven't had, and even wasted an hour on the SNCF web site searching for day trips I don't want to take.  I know it's part of the reason I ended up at Tour Montparnasse yesterday.  


I remembered on my beautiful, pointless walk that I came to Paris to be in Paris.  The main reason I keep coming back is not because of monuments or museums, but because of how Paris makes me feel.  I want everyone to experience Paris as a feeling rather than a thing.   This afternoon, I listened to an organist rehearse at a tiny church behind Notre Dame.  I heard the music way before I found my way inside and sat in the back pew, eyes closed, so grateful to be in the place I love.  Slow down, relax and breathe.     

As Chris wrote to me in an e-mail last night, "Paris is ours and we may as well enjoy it."  Exactly.  



My Paris obsessions...

Last September it was rose flavoured Pierre Hermè macarons.  This summer it's chocolate éclairs and I cannot walk past a bakery without buying one.  Much better for my health, I am also obsessed with Les Berges Paris and walk all or part of the 2.3 km promenade each day.  And markets - I haven't found a market that doesn't thrill me.

Things French guys say...

After I was unable to provide directions, he said to me with a sleazy smile, "Are you a dancer?"  Clearly he has never seen my hideous feet or my uncoordinated dance moves.     

More beauty from Les Jardins des Plantes


2 comments:

CarolynB said...

You write beautifully about how Paris makes you FEEL -- I totally relate, and suspect many of your current (and future!) readers do, too.

Hang in there and keep walking :)

Cheers and a hug from across the Seine (I think!). Really enjoy your posts about your time in Paris.


After Fifty / Sylvia said...

I know that feeling of fear to miss something BUT there is no way yo can get to see and do it all ever!

I've said it before, I don't think a lifetime would be enough to really, really know all of Paris.

Relax and think you have the rest of your life to explore the city...and breathe!