P is for pARIS

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It all started in the nadir of winter when we were hosting the Girl Gift Gather Book Club. The book we were reading, The Artist’s Way, asked us to write a letter from our 80-year-old self to our current self. Among the suggestions that I relax, have more compassion, and use eye cream (my imaginary 80-year-old self is trés wise), there was a recommendation that I travel alone.

As you may know, I’m big into travel. But, travelling solo never seemed like an option. Like many young women, I was fed a myth that it was dangerous, risky and asking for trouble. When an opportunity came about for me to spend three days by myself in Paris, during my birthday no less, my 80-year-old self challenged this way of thinking. Of course I can travel alone. I live in New York City. I can handle anything! Certainly the charming streets of The City of Lights.

So, on the eve of July 29th I boarded a plane to Charles De Gaulle and the adventure began. I arrived in Paris the morning of my birthday bleary eyed and buzzing with excitement. I got to my charming studio apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, showered and immediately took myself to lunch around the corner at Café de Flore. Over a glass of rosé and those delicious potato chips they serve, I basked in the Paris sunlight and watched the people go by (I even spotted Sofia Coppola).

My days were filled with wanderings and wonderings. During my strolls through Jardins des Tuileries and the Marais, I noticed how much easier it is to marvel at a city when you don’t have a companion to distract you with chatter and conversation. Free of anyone else’s agenda, I took my sweet time planning my days, changing my plans and pursuing each and every one of my whims. One day, I ate only a croissant, a chocolate eclair and a Berthillon ice cream before dinner. It was marvelous!

My blue journal became my companion as I sipped cappuccino at Boot Cafe and aperitif at Cafe Charlot. Even now, when I read through my rambling notes and descriptions of the beautiful Parisian couples surrounding me at Chez Julien, I am filled with a joy unknown to me before this trip.

I am an amenable person. I’m constantly trying to find a balance between what I want and what others want. But travelling alone freed me of my constant negotiations. Without anyone to consider or please, I could prioritize myself in a way that is particularly challenging for me during my day to day. In some ways this trip was a crash course in getting to know myself. And one of the most valuable things I learned is how much I enjoy my own company. The journey culminated in taking myself out to a nice dinner at Clamato (it was ridiculously amazing). I sat at the bar, left my phone, my book and even my journal in my bag and enjoyed an hour and half long meal--alone. No distractions. Just me. It was one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.

 

I’ll be sharing a Paris travel guide and some more thoughts on traveling alone on the blog in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Chelsey