It’s impossible to write something about Paris that hasn’t been written before. I knew that immediately, and it made me feel strangely wonderful inside. How delightful to visit a place - the place, perhaps - where our most enduring clichés are born under the sparkling lights of love and magic.
So I’m not going to tell you a story about Paris.
Sure, we went to Paris, and all the clichés were true. You know, the City of Love, the City of Light, beautiful French women with baguettes and everything else you already know about Paris. It’s amazing. Maybe Audrey Hepburn said it best, “Paris is always a good idea.”
But to be honest, we never wanted to go to Paris. Our Canadian education instilled in us no particular interest or love for french language, food or culture, and in my case, actually a revulsion of sorts. Learning French was a nightmare for me as an awkward teenager, and I quite successfully repressed all I had been forced to learn as the final exam paper left my fingertips.
We’ve spent our travels together, for the most part, rejecting “common” places to go in favour of locations that seem exotic and adventurous. There is something so alluring about having experiences that you share with only a small group of people, like hiking Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains with geleda baboons or sleeping under the stars with foxes in the Egyptian desert. Paris, well, it seems that everyone has a Paris story we all already know before they even tell it.
So Paris was never high on the bucket list, but I suppose if you’d have asked, we’d have said that eventually we’d go, because, well, it’s Paris.
As it turned out, we ended up in Paris because it was our seventh wedding anniversary. We have a long-standing tradition that I plan our dating anniversaries and Brian plans our wedding anniversaries, so he did his research and decided that for a three hour train ride, and affordable first class tickets, why not a long weekend in Paris? For someone that usually plans nothing, he really outdid himself by sealing this itinerary airtight against stress and aggravation with skip-the-line passes. The usual suspects, the Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre, a cabaret, the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile, and a Seine River cruise were on that itinerary, but we had plenty of free time for wandering and being lazy too.
So, you see, there’s just nothing new to say about Paris, nor any photograph that hasn’t already been taken. What we found strolling down those perfect Parisian avenues wasn’t something new, it was something old. On our first trip to Paris, we became a tiny cog in the timeless cliché of romantic European travel that will outlive us all.
That’s, of course, how I see it now. Then, it was just the two of us celebrating under the sparkling lights in the City of Love.