May 5, 2017

Francophile Friday (n°4): "Planning" for Paris

Paris. (In a French accent s'il vous plaît...) 

I've been completely enamored with this city since middle school when I chose French as my foreign language. I'll be honest, for a long time Paris was the Eiffel Tower and baguettes for me. I just didn't know anything more, though these two things alone pulled me in. Completely. 

I've had the good fortune of visiting Paris twice in my life. The first time I was 16 years old and on an EF Tour trip with a group from my high school. In the blur that was two incredibly quick days, I climbed the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, cruised the Seine in a bateau mouche, walked passed Notre Dame, and ate McDonald's on the Champs-Élysées. At the time, doing this made me feel very cultured, I assure you. 

The second go around, I was 18. We made a pit stop in Paris before heading to Lyon, where I would stay with a lovely French family for two weeks. Once again, Paris was a two day whirlwind. I did all of the things listed above, plus ventured to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and gazed over the sprawling density of the city from Montmartre. The thing that really set this visit apart, though, was the few hours of freedom we were given one sole afternoon. I will never forget the thrill of navigating the Paris Métro, the view from behind the clock at the Musée D'Orsay, the pristine greenery at the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the feel of Parisian sunlight on my face as I walked along the Seine. This small taste of exploration had me longing for more. Much more. 

Here I am, after eight years of longing, and I finally get to step foot on Parisian soil again. In just over a month, five nights in Paris await my boyfriend and me. This time, I want to slow things down. I don't just want to simply skim the surface. I want to be fully present, soak in every moment, and explore Paris beyond the tourist sites. So naturally, I started a project. :) 

I have been tracking places to visit in Paris in my bullet journal for months. I've picked up inspiration from many blogs, novels, and memoirs - everything from shops to museums to cafés and beyond. I became especially passionate about noting treasures to behold off the beaten path. I knew my list was going to begin taking on a life of it's own, and so I began the ultimate list in the back of my new bullet journal. It unpacks Paris arrondissement by arrondissement. This journal will travel with me this summer. 

(Pictured above, a beautiful book that I used to discover unique & creative spots in the city-  PARIS: An Inspiring Tour of the City's Creative Heart.)

I say that I'm "planning" for Paris for a reason. This list is in no way a check list. I don't at all expect to cover all of this in five days. While I definitely have some non-negotiables (each marked with an asterisk), the main reason I wanted to make this list was to get to know Paris. Really get to know it (well, the best you can without actually being/living there). I feel that having a general idea of each neighborhood and it's charms will help me be more aware of my surroundings. 

I had never heard the word flaneûr (flaneuse for a girl) until recently. It's French for stroller, saunterer, passionate wanderer. I love this word, because this is how I want to enjoy my time in Paris. While the list will give me an idea of what to keep an eye out for, I want to be ready to take advantage of whatever the city decides to offer me at a moment's notice. The best trips I've taken have unfolded in this way. 

I cannot wait for Paris. J'attends avec beaucoup d'impatience. I just know that this time around, I will experience the city as I never have before. I know the memories I keep from this trip will be more vivid, more colorful, more precious than ever. I will be sure to share what I discover with you. 

Have you traveled to Paris? Anything you think I should keep an eye out for? If not, what do you long to do or see in Paris? I would love to hear from you in the comments! 

Warm wishes from me to you,

*If you are interested in creating a similar list of your own, here is the source of the adorable map. Thank you, Kim! :) 

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