Before arriving to Paris, I had few ideas of what to expect based on fictional movies: French people would be mean, cheese would be everywhere, and smoking is deeply embedded into Parisian culture. When I arrived, two of the three held true (Parisians are in fact lovely people) and I was in for so much more than what I could have ever expected.
The opulent chateau 40 minutes outside of Paris by train is a splendor worth of every minute of the trip. There's art in every inch of the former palace turned museum; so much so that your eyes dart back and forth continuously just to try to take it all in. The grandeur of it all is as overwhelming as it is captivating and causes you to wonder why such beautiful spaces have been replaced with blank, minimalist architecture that hardly differentiates itself from the building next to it.
From a petit dejeuner to a late night dinner and drinks outdoors under the heated awning of a restaurant you stumbled upon in alley, the culture and enjoyment of life are deeply ingrained into the ways of Paris. Throughout my whole trip, I didn't once see anyone drinking a coffee on the go or eating while walking. In fact, on my last morning, while eating breakfast outdoors in the sunshine, a women walking stopped to take a seat next to me to bask in the sun, smoke her cigarette, and take ten minutes to enjoy her espresso before moving back along on her shuffle to get nowhere fast.
My biggest lesson from my trip to Paris was learned that that morning in a little restaurant on Rue du Faubourg Montmartre: to take my time and enjoy every moment no matter how big or little it may seem. In New York, I am constantly rushing to get from point A to point B, raising my blood pressure for the slightest instance, and not taking time to relax and enjoy each of my meals. In the few weeks since my return from Paris, I've taken a few pointers from Parisian living which have made living in New York a much more calming experience.
It's almost as if all of Paris was designed and built at one time with the uniformity of all the buildings yet each still has its own unique flair. Each building is no more than a few stories and most windows have a balcony to allow its residents to enjoy their slice of Paris when the sun is shining and the weather is warm.
Hidden Passageway Shops
The greatest thing to have stumbled upon next to my Airbnb has been hidden passageway shops with local eateries, grocers, booksellers, boutiques, art exhibits, bars, museums, and so much more.
Overall, Paris was a dream; namely one I wish to relive over and over. I returned to America not only 3 pounds heavier from excessive cheese and pastry intake, but with a new mindset to enjoy every moment and a peaked interest in Europe as a whole.