GOODBYE, COMFORT ZONE…..
Last Saturday morning I stopped by a currency bureau to exchange my US $$$ for Euros. Having been in Paris only 3 days, I prepped for the conversation needed for this transaction. As I stepped to the window, I did my spiel en français, and felt quite pleased with my performance. The young man behind the counter smiled…bigly.
“C’est vrai,” I asked. He nodded his head. He understood.
“I guess you know I’m American, huh?”
Friday at the Picasso Museum I flipped to English when questioning a guard about an upcoming exhibition. “It’s alright,” he said. “I like to practice my English.”
I’ve shopped so often at Monoprix, the major retail store on my block, clerks already understand my fractured French. For my first Paris meal at Au Bouquet St. Paul’s, I ordered Magret de canard aux figues et miel and, voilà, quack, quack. However, anything revolving around food and drink albeit unpolished, pas de problème. I’ll get there, my friends. Time is on my side.
THE JOY IS in the JOURNEY, NOT at the JOURNEY’S END
During the past six years I have learned to be comfortable traveling alone. If you make a wrong choice on a solo trip, you fix it without feeling guilty for ruining someone else’s day. In my six years of going solo I’ve never met a problem I couldn’t resolve into a better solution. In my opinion, traveling alone makes you braver. Inspiration kickstarts creativity, expanding your mind. Dealing successfully with the unknown gives you courage. You learn to trust your instinct.
However, as many of you understand like I do, life can turn on a dime. For now, at least, I am privileged and somewhat in a hurry to be able to push boundaries. If not now, when? This 6 weeks in Paris is all about that.
Last Tuesday morning I boarded the Aspen to Chicago flight, beginning a six-week adventure into the Unknown Zone. By Wednesday morning I was unlocking the door to my tiny studio apartment in Le Marais. Unpack. Shop. Explore. Jet lag be damned. My apartment is modest, adequate and within my budget. (Yes, I have one.) It’s safe, quiet and I have already bonded with all 240 square feet.
What is fabulous, of course, is the location, Rue Saint Antoine, a street dating from the 16th century. Directly across from my apartment is the gorgeous 17th century Saint Paul-Saint Louis church, a magnificent blend of French/Italian Baroque architecture. The 170’ July Column of Place de la Bastille, dedicated to the 1830’s Revolution, anchors one end of the area. Christian Vabret’s charming corner bakery/restaurant, Au Petit Versailles du Marais, the other. Since it opens at 7am, who doesn’t need an early morning croissant and cappuccino?
Standing by my building’s doorway I spot boulangeries (5), a fromagerie, dozens of cafes and bistros, chocolatiers (5), Monoprix, grocery stores, fishmongers, flower shops, wine/Foie Gras shops, a bookstore and more. Much more.
It’s been a happy beginning.
Bonne nuit de Paris.
“Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything.”
*Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina