Do you have a special place that feels like home even though it is not your home? For me, that place is Paris. No matter that I haven’t lived there in almost 20 years. Every time I return, it’s as if I never left.
The time-traveling architecture, the omnipresent statuary, the distinct industrial perfume that wafts through the hallways of the métro, the strident cries of ambulance and police sirens, the colors and scents of the outdoor markets, the leisurely café life…these are all familiar and comforting to me. Like home.
My husband’s brother got remarried in Bordeaux last week. I almost didn’t go – the expense, childcare, the dog, work – it’s so easy to find excuses to stay put. But when we realized that we could significantly lower the cost of the trip by cobbling together frequent flier miles and Amex points, a voyage that initially seemed irresponsible to take suddenly seemed irresponsible not to take.
A chance to reunite with family we see but once every few years? A chance to remind myself why I love Paris? A chance to spend time in a city we’ve never visited before? A chance for my husband and me to spend much needed time together, just the two of us? Life is too short not to make the effort. With my mom on board to watch the girls for a few days, I needed no further convincing.
Our long weekend in Bordeaux was bookended by a couple of nights in Paris. Other than reserving the hotels and the train south, I did not preplan the trip. I had only one goal for our short getaway: to wander aimlessly through the streets of my favorite city. In French, the operating phrase is “flâner dans les rues.” During our six days on French soil, we walked almost 40 miles. And it was glorious.
We revisited old favorites that gleamed in the pristine blue sky.
We took a walk down memory lane to the tiny Parisian street where my husband lived as a poor college student and where I spent many nights during my junior year abroad. His apartment was a delapidated studio room a few blocks south of the red light district and a stone’s throw from the Folies Bergère, the 19th century cabaret theater famous for its risqué revues that, much to my shock, now puts on much less risqué children’s matinees.
We picnicked among gorgeous sculptures, both old and new, in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
We discovered surprising works of art in the most unlikeliest of places.
I became reacquainted with one of my favorite small museums, the Musée Gustave Moreau, the home and studio of an eclectic 19th century artist who blended several different styles (Romantic, Fauvism, Abstraction) into captivating works of art rich in colors and symbolism.
In between our brief stays in Paris, my brother-in-law’s wedding in Bordeaux gave us the chance to discover a new city – one that is overcoming years of neglect and undergoing a 21st century renaissance.
We climbed to the top of the second-highest bell tower in France at the 15th century basilica of Saint Michel. The view was exquisite.
And happened upon unanticipated and delightful public artwork.
As my husband and I strolled through the streets of the French capital for our final 24-hour hurrah, I spent some time enviously analyzing real estate listings posted in agency storefronts, dreaming of the day – perhaps 10-20 years from now – when we might once again call Paris home. For real.
What is your home away from home? Please share!
Recommended Hotels & Restaurants
In Bordeaux: A Blue Lodge in Bordeaux bed & breakfast.