I have been planning a trip to Paris with my roommate for several months now. We were supposed to be participating in a ballet intensive there together, but since the diagnosis of my spinal fracture, plans have changed…as you can imagine. So with ballet on my list of off-limits activities (see also football and weightlifting), I have decided to take this opportunity to dive head first into French culture, starting with a 3-week crash course in the language of love. I took french for 4 years in high school, but since that was several English-speaking years ago, my francais est en peux ruuuusty. Nonetheless, I am very excited to rediscover those throaty r’s and nasally u’s! Of course this will mean commuting to and from the school by myself and prooobably sitting at a few cafes/eating my meals sans company- something I’ve never even experienced in America. This fair amount of impending alone time in Paris has been bouncing around my mind like a confused metro cart, stopping off at Intimidation, Excitement, Fear, Joy, and a few other places along the way. Reading this article on the advantages of solo travelling, written by Andrew O’Hagan ,(thanks for the recommendation, Emily) calmed my scrambling brain. Observe his wisdom:
Let me dispel a few myths. You will be lonely. No: you won’t. My solo travels in Paris have brought many perfect hours of being alone but not a moment of loneliness. People who depend on other people are often in hiding from themselves. Two and a quarter million people live in the City of Light: you will see many of them and you will pass them in the street, but when you see Notre Dame after dark and walk home and perhaps stop to have a drink in the Marais, you can feel that the only thing that is missing from your experience is the common dependency on someone to distract your attention. You are living without it: you are on vacation.
He really does make discovering new sites, cultures, foods, sounds, and smells sound positively enticing. Upon realizing I’d have some time to myself in Paris, the first place my mind went to was a cozy café with a cup of thé et un croissant. Then to the grassy park beneath Le Tour Eiffel, with a sketch book and a seltzer water. Then to the tree-lined paths right by there and the cute little benches I never got to sit on last time I visited the City of Light. I immediately saw the opportunity for a great deal of self-discovery, reflection and learning- not only about the amazing, historic city surrounding me, but about myself as an individual. I have been lucky enough never to spend too much time alone. I’ve always travelled exclusively with friends and family, and have never had to go so far as the hotel lobby without a partner-in-crime. This new trip will bring me an entirely new experience, one stripped of distractions and packed with adventure, and reading this article really helped me validate and believe in that. That being said, the only thing missing from my solo dates is a good book! I want a nice light novel I can really get into- any suggestions?!
Until next time- au revior chickens!
I am so excited for you for your trip to Paris. It sounds so exciting and I hope you will be able to experience all of the things you are looking forward to doing. It brings to mind my time in Paris and I loved every minute. I do have one small dose of advice….be friendly. :) Not that you aren’t a perfectly friendly person! You seem to be a really sweet young lady. I found the French people wonderful but a bit skeptical of Americans at times. I think some have had the bad receiving end of some rude demanding Americans, especially those in the service industries. They will love that you will try to speak French with them and you will be amazed at how many speak English. I found that if I was friendly and nice they were as equally friendly and nice and were more relaxed around me. Enjoy yourself and soak in every minute. You are going to love this trip! Bon voyage!
Remind me of a time about 25 years ago, left my job and went travelling across western Europe for a whole year, It is a beautiful experience discovering a city by yourself, a very enriching one….Je vous souhaite un magnifique séjour dans le ville lumière…as for me my favorite time and discorvery was staying in Vienna for four months, learned a bit of german, met some wonderful peoples, and important to me discovering some early 20 th century painter’s that in a way did shape my own painting, it’s been a long time, but I still remember vividly those days.