That Time in Paris – Throwback Thursday Stories

This is my first time participating in Throwback Thursday Stories with The Mom Creative. I love the idea of telling the stories behind all those photos we post for Throwback Thursday!

The picture below is from March 2006. It was taken upstairs at Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris with one of my favorite authors, Cara Black.

Paris Cara Black Shakespeare and Company

It is one of my everlasting regrets that both of our eyes aren’t open. C’est la vie. (sorry Cara!)

Why this photo today? Well, two weekends ago (yeah, I tried getting this done in time for last week, but you know life…my kid doesn’t sleep…) was my high school reunion and while there an old friend who I hadn’t spoken to in years mentioned to me that she had gone to a book signing and picked up a new book she thought I’d enjoy. I interrupted her to say, “Cara Black?” Yep.

My love for Paris is fairly well documented (and my desire to run away there on bad days) as is my lifelong devotion to books. Cara Black’s mysteries set in the many different neighborhoods of Paris are a perfect match for me. I’m not surprised that even someone I hadn’t spoken to in 8 (?) years wanted to recommend them. I’m recommending them to you too right now if you haven’t already discovered them! Grab your favorite beverage, curl up in a comfortable spot and go visit Paris for an excellent mystery. Her heroine Aimee Leduc is one of my favorites – I want her style, her adventures, and her apartment…oh my goodness, her apartment.

Anyway…THIS PICTURE. I love this picture for two reasons. One – It documents one of my finer crazy fan-girl moments. I showed up with a printed out picture from meeting Cara previously at New York is Book Country. A couple nights later, I went to another Paris signing at the Red Wheelbarrow bookshop in the Marais. That’s when I was officially dubbed a stalker.

Paris Cara Black Autograph

The second reason I love that photo? It reminds me of what it was to travel alone, to experience a place completely for me on my own schedule and pace with absolutely no one else to satisfy. I spent ten days in Paris on that trip. I stayed in a hostel with a view of Sacré-Cœur, then moved to a tiny hotel with bathrooms in the hallway and fabulous over the top atmosphere, and finally went to something a tad more luxurious (en suite bathroom!) in the heart of St-Germain. Because I could. I wanted to try out different neighborhoods and meet different people. Some people thought I was nuts for changing hotels, but I only had one bag and staying on an extreme budget for the first seven nights let me splurge for my final weekend!

I took a short class at Elfe (École de Langue Français) for one week. I was on a mission to finally grasp a few grammatical concepts that continued to elude me. I was able to attend (and completely understand!) an afternoon wine tasting course conducted entirely in French. It was a proud moment for me! I took the metro during rush hour every morning and enjoyed pretending to be a citizen of Paris for a few all too brief days. The school was tucked into this gorgeous courtyard building. I felt so chic just walking in!

paris language school

I admired one of the administrator’s haircut one morning and she helped me sort out any language intricacies I might encounter, gave me a recommendation for a salon and off I went. It was a tiny neighborhood salon where no one spoke English – we were all delighted with each other’s company and the joke became that I should certainly fly back to Paris for a monthly trim!

Having the time to slow down and really communicate with people was the real joy of the trip. I could people watch to my heart’s content. I sat in café after café and met people from all over. I lingered in flea markets, and stopped at every embroidery shop I could find. There was no one else’s agenda to worry over, I could be as selfish with my time as I wanted. It was the ultimate indulgence.

Paris Sisters Poodle

I stood on a bridge and watched the sunset every night. I don’t do a lot of sunset watching these days – I’m usually struggling to get dinner on the table and the small boy to bed. Paris seems like a distant memory, and I often wonder if I will ever get the chance to go back. I’d like to, oh how I would love to take Roger and Jack and show them all these special places. I hope we get the chance to have a grand adventure together, us three. There’s also that part of me that hopes to someday capture the magic of traveling solo again. I’m a wife and mother, but still me. Sometimes I still need to stand alone.

Paris Sunset Notre Dame

It was a perfect, brief moment in time.

Have you ever taken a solo journey before? I posted extensively about this trip in a travel forum and I was shocked at the amount of women who said they’d be afraid to travel alone! Get out there and adventure, sisters, the world is waiting for you!


That Time in Paris – Throwback Thursday Stories — 7 Comments

  1. I’ve always wanted to go on some exciting, crazy adventure by myself…but, let’s be honest, our Mom gets nervous just at the thought of me driving to the grocery store by myself!

  2. Hey there! Loved the photos 🙂 Ahh Paris is a great city isn’t it? And I’m not saying that because I live here, I promise 😛
    So do you speak French?
    I don’t know if you’ve seen it but I’m going to become a mom pretty soon! I’m going to speak French to our girl and my american husband will speak english with her 🙂
    xo, Iris

    • I speak horrible French. I used to be fairly good, but since having our son and having no time to study and keep up conversation group meetings… it’s embarrassing! Congratulations on the baby girl to be! One of my friends is German and she only speaks German to her son, his father speaks English only to him and at three years old he is wonderfully bilingual!

    • It is so worth it – and unlike New York, there are actually budget hotels that are FUN to stay in! If you can get a deal on airfare it’s actually not that bad of a trip. DO IT!

  3. I just now read this! I LOVE the signed book! Truly, I have a strong urge to jump on a plane. Some of my most peaceful, creative, and transformational moments have happened on solo trips. Traveling alone is so underrated!

    • Isn’t it though? I really hope my boys don’t take offense, but I really cannot wait to travel solo again. I think it’s something every woman should do at least once!

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