In April I went to Paris for a bachelorette getaway. With a group of four great friends and an epic apartment, we spent a long weekend indulging in the French lifestyle. I returned to Canada with magical memories of our time abroad. Here’s what I took away from this trip:
PDA is A-OK
We were in Paris to celebrate a 30th birthday and an engagement, so love was in the air. Paris is also known as The City of Love, and it owns up to this reputation in every way. Young couples who stroll Paris’ boulevards don’t just look romantic, they exude l’amour.
It’s not an uncommon sight to witness a young couple necking on a park bench. At a cafe, pairs can be found nuzzled up close to one another. It would be weird to walk along the sidewalk without holding hands with your significant other. There’s definitely a line to be drawn when it comes to public displays of affection but maybe we draw that line too severely here in North America.
Every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man
French haute couture is world-renowned and it oozes onto Paris’ streets. While fashion accolades tend to adorn French women, their male counterparts are no slouches. I loved people-watching in Paris and taking in the style of the city’s residents, both male and female.
In Toronto, I’m so sick of spotting people out for errands dressed in sweats. There’s a confidence transferred onto individuals who adorn themselves with pride. A Parisian is always put-together. And this effortless-chic doesn’t include spandex unless a trip to the gym is actually involved.
There’s no substitute for quality time with old friends
I came home gushing about the perfect time I had in Paris. My partner asked what it was that made my time so incredible? The answer: conversations.
It’s not that I don’t have wonderful chats with my loved ones back home, I do. But there’s something unique about musings over wine with wonderful women that cannot be replicated. I’m also blessed with an intellectual and ambitious friend group with whom conversation is invigorating.
Quality hours spent with close friends is never time wasted. And if you still need an excuse to hang out, studies show that it’s not only fun, but also great for your health.
“It makes us feel nurtured and validated to hang out with friends we can be totally ourselves [with], minus the outside pressures.” -Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT
Foreign language immersion is humbling
As Canadians, we have the benefit of growing up with a basic understanding of the French language. Enough to get by, but not enough to pass as fluent unless you identify as Francophone.
Over a sensational Michelin-rated dinner, we learned the difference between “à tes souhaits” (how we’d been blessing people after sneezing throughout the entire vacation) and “à vos souhaits” (the polite phrase one should use with strangers after they sneeze). We were embarrassed, but ultimately grateful to our server who took the time to explain to us the difference.
Throwing yourself into speaking in a foreign tongue is intimidating. The daunting task gets a bit easier to tackle when you take a relaxed approach and accept that you’ll mess up. Go for it anyway!
A slower pace of life is possible even in a big capital city
The Parisian act of sitting cafe-side and people watching is culturally entrenched. Naturally, we indulged in this most important activity at least once per day. We were on holiday and could afford this time to sit back and relax. Something that doubtful any of us partake in during our day-to-day lives back at home.
Paris is a world-class and booming mega-city yet achieves this status without the busyness that goes hand-in-hand with this calibre of metropolis in North America. It seems a Parisian can always make the time to sit down and enjoy their petit cafe instead of rushing to grab one on the go.
Nothing is permanent
Notre Dame burnt down one week after I got back from Paris. The devastation caused by the loss of this gothic masterpiece reverberated around the world. I remember watching scenes of the blaze on TV and thinking about how fortunate I was to experience the church one last time.
What happened at Notre Dame could happen anywhere, at any time. That’s the thing about life, we can’t predict what will happen. So, if there’s a place that’s been on your bucket list forever, quit waiting for the right time to visit. Make it happen. It might be gone before you know it.