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October 26, 2010
Living a dream among the pleasures of Paris
For many years now, I’ve had a “bucket list” of travel destinations and experiences—as Grand Circle travelers often do—and there are few things I enjoy more than being able to gradually whittle down that list. It’s so gratifying to finally visit a place you’ve always daydreamed about!
I’d been to Paris several times over the years, but had always wanted to actually live there on my own—ideally, for three months. Of course, as a wife, mother, and business owner, the logistics of going away for three months made this particular dream almost unattainable. And so, the “live in Paris for three months” entry remained on my bucket list for some time, until seven years ago this month.
It was fall 2003. Alan was busy at Grand Circle—and closely following the American League pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees—while Edward had recently graduated and Charlotte was working in one of our regional offices. It finally seemed like a good time to go, so I rearranged a few of my own commitments, and rented a charming apartment in Paris’ sixth arrondissement for the month of October.
As soon as I arrived at my flat in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, I began to immerse myself in daily Parisian life. Although I wasn’t working, I managed to keep busy just doing everyday things. I began by acquainting myself with the neighborhood, a bustling district on the Left Bank full of cafes, shops, bookstores, galleries, and literary landmarks. I sought out the best local merchants, and shopped for fresh bread, cheese, vegetables, wine, flowers, and more almost daily—just like a local! As I got friendly with the merchants, they often obliged when I practiced my French with them (I was taking French lessons). To further my immersion, I even went to the local hair salon a few times—an experience that often feels familiar wherever you are. I sat in cafes and watched passersby. I visited Notre Dame to hear the choir, which sounded like angels singing. Once, I took a relaxing day cruise along the Seine—and experienced the city from a different perspective.
Because Paris is such a wonderful walking city, I tried to walk as often as possible. Some days, I just walked, and walked, and walked without any specific destination in mind. Other days, I took advantage of its user-friendly public transportation system—and explored the outskirts of the city. Eventually, I was so comfortable with the subway that I felt like “the queen of the Metro.” (This familiarity was especially helpful when Alan visited for a week—and we traipsed about the city in search of places to watch the baseball playoffs.)
During that month, I did what I wanted to do and I never felt rushed. And all the while, I reveled in the pleasure of living in Paris—albeit briefly.
Would you like to share any special experiences from your own travel “bucket list?” If so, I’d love to hear them. Share your comments below this Journal entry, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be spotlighting the South Pacific, Russia, and our Christmas River Cruises along the Rhine, Seine, and Danube rivers, in future updates, so if you’ve explored these destinations with Grand Circle, please share your stories—and pictures—with me at email@example.com.