If you follow this blog or at least have read other posts and paid attention to what I’ve said, you’d know that I will swear up and down that getting on a plane and moving to England for a year is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. And I’m right. That is the best thing I’ve ever done. Taking myself on a solo trip to Paris at the age of 21 is a close second.
There’s a quote from my favorite movie that sums it up best:
“Paris isn’t for changing planes. It’s for changing your outlook, for throwing open the windows and letting in la vie en rose.” -Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild in Sabrina (1954)
Four days in this magic city with only myself for company was definitely a perspective changing experience. I’ve never actually minded doing things on my own–at times I even prefer it–but going to the movies alone and going to Paris alone are two totally different animals. I was traveling as a solo female traveller in one of the busiest cities in the world (and if you’ve seen Taken you’ll understand why my mother was extra freaked out about my travel arrangements). I felt okay about it as I’d been to Paris once before briefly on a school trip, so I had a general idea of how things worked and where things were. But even so, it’s an intimidating thing navigating a foreign city where I definitely don’t speak the language, eating at restaurants with no one across the table to chat to, and basking in all the beauty around me with no one there to share it with.
But that was also a very liberating and empowering thing as well. Maybe I was all alone but that meant I only had myself to cater to, and so I was able to have the exact Paris experience that I wanted to have. No one to eat with meant I could eat whenever, wherever, and whatever I wanted (which I definitely took advantage of *cough* three crepes in one day *cough*).
I got to wander in the Louvre and spent as much time as I wanted looking at things. One thing I didn’t spend much time with: the Mona Lisa, which is not worth fighting the horde of tourists surrounding it with cameras.
I may not have had anyone with me to enjoy the beauty of the Tuileries Garden on my sunny first day or my many walks through it, or to marvel with me at the way the Eiffel Tower sparkles at night. But honestly? That didn’t make it any less beautiful. If anything, I think it made it even more special because I got to look around at where I was and think about where I started and where I would be had I never made the move to England (there I go praising that decision again). I will always have those memories to keep with me, and they’ll be completely mine.
In the city of love, I learned to love myself just the tiniest bit more and appreciate the life that I have and the blessings I’ve received with a few extra ounces of gratitude. My 4-day experience during my school reading week was a short one, but a meaningful and action-filled one. Despite being on my own, I didn’t run into any trouble. I found that if you act like you belong and pretend you know what you’re doing, people will leave you to it. I walked everywhere and I mean everywhere. That was probably the best thing for me (and not just to offset all the delicious food I’d been eating) since that allowed me to see way more than I would have by taking a Metro, and because I truly learned how to navigate the city. That will be useful when I go back, which I definitely plan on doing (hopefully soon).
Paris is just one of those cities everyone should strive to see at least once in their lifetime. If you have someone to go with, great! By all means do it with a companion. But if you don’t–or maybe you just want to change your outlook on life and throw open the windows to let in la vie en rose–then I say buy a selfie stick/phone tripod with a Bluetooth remote, book yourself a ticket, and don’t be afraid to take on this amazing city by yourself. Audrey Hepburn had it right again in that same movie by stating the straight up fact of the matter:
“Paris is always a good idea.”
Since I’ll probably be talking about my time in Paris until the day I die, be on the lookout for more posts based on and inspired by this trip. If there’s anything specific you’d like me to discuss or just want some travel tips, feel free to get in touch with me on the Talk to Me page.