the first time i saw Paris... - une femme d'un certain âge

the first time i saw Paris…

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My very first ever Room With A View from Paris

I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t dreamed of visiting Paris. Finally in 2007, a few months after my 50th birthday, that dream came true. It was my first time traveling to Europe, I was a bit jet-lagged and don’t remember much of the ride from the airport to the hotel, but when I looked out of our window and saw this (above) I felt as if someone had waved a magic wand over me. I was in Paris!!!!

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I couldn’t believe I was actually standing in front of the Eiffel Tower…

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gazing up from underneath at the intricate ironwork

and see the amazing views of the city from the top.

and seeing the amazing views of the city from the top.

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Walking along the Seine.

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Admiring the view from the rooftop cafe at Printemps.

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Notre Dame

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The Grand Palais

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Musée d’Orsay

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Place Vendome

I won’t pretend that first trip to Paris didn’t have its difficult moments as well: being in a totally new environment, dealing with jet lag, navigating differing expectations of activities and itineraries with le monsieur, being so far from home and our son for the first time, getting ourselves oriented, over-packing…it was definitely a learning experience.

But waking up that first morning and remembering that I was in Paris(!!!)

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I’d be hard-pressed to pick a single “best day of my life,” but that first day in Paris? Definitely on the short list. We’ve visited Paris a few times since then, and the magic has never worn off; that feeling of “OMG!” when I look out of my hotel window is always there.

And I’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our Veterans, and all who have served.

Will be linking up later with the By Invitation Only bloggers for our November theme, The Best Day Of Your Life, at Spenderosa.

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34 Comments

  1. November 11, 2014 / 8:09 am

    Great post! I especially appreciate the part where you explain that the experience wasn’t perfect but was still magical. A good reminder. And delightful photos. I hope I can go to Paris for my 50th b-day, too.

  2. Susan P. Frierson
    November 11, 2014 / 8:21 am

    That’s exactly how I felt the first time I visited NYC. Be careful…one day you may find yourself saying, “Hey wait a minute! I could actually LIVE here!” (Which is what I did 12 years ago – sold everything I owned and bought a teeny tiny apt in Manhattan! Life is good.)

  3. November 11, 2014 / 8:25 am

    Lovely. We’re going for the first time next spring. Well, the first time for me; my husband lived in France as a teenager. His father was in the Canadian Air Force and was posted in France for 4 years. We’ve concentrated our travels up to now on places that neither of us has been to. But as this will be my retirement trip…much delayed due to Hubby’s unexpected heart surgery in 2013…it’s my choice of destinations alone…and I chose Paris…and other parts of France too, of course. Hope my trip is as magical as yours was.

    • November 12, 2014 / 5:10 pm

      I’m not sure I understood all your post. Are you travelling alone, or with your husband?

      I hope his health has improved. But France has a very good health system; it is not a risky destination for people with health conditions, as long as they are under control. You may enjoy renting a car, but you can also travel to train to most destinations in France, in clean, modern trains.

      If you are going there in the spring, you have plenty of time to bone up on your French. Oh, you can certainly make yourself understood in English, but a better understanding of the language and culture will greatly increase the magic of your sojourn. Nowadays, there are a lot of free resources online. You can of course read newspapers online and view local sites if your French is up to that.

  4. Jean
    November 11, 2014 / 8:43 am

    My husband is a reluctant traveler and a hard man to impress. I brought him to Paris last year and at his first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower he said “that’s it?” I still laugh when I think of it and tease him about it. But, actually, it was the perfect response from him. I go to Euorpe every year and still have that giddy, incredulous feeling of “I can’t believe I’m in (fill in the blank)!” I hope I never lose that. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns when traveling but it’s still exciting and worthwhile. Even when I bring my husband along.

    • Hiannah
      November 11, 2014 / 8:16 pm

      I think I’m married to the same man!

  5. November 11, 2014 / 9:25 am

    Sounds like a perfect day!
    I am hoping to feel like that when I visit Paris for the first time this May.

  6. Lisa
    November 11, 2014 / 9:38 am

    Oh my goodness! How I totally understand that feeling. It was my first impression when I went there too. I still get the same OMG feeling. Thank you for the beautiful trip down memory lane today. Le sigh!

  7. November 11, 2014 / 10:18 am

    Your sense of wonder always comes through in your posts. I went to Paris after my first year of college….and then not for many, many years. Mr FS had lived in Paris for a few years after college, so on our first trip together, I just tried to keep him in sight as he ran from one place to another.

    Do you have your next trip scheduled?

  8. Amy
    November 11, 2014 / 12:37 pm

    Love Paris even when a thief makes off with my carry on bag, as happened to me two weeks ago on the RER from Charles deGaulle! I started following your blog last spring and appreciate your style and many constructive, stylish ideas. Before my fall trip to Paris, Provence and the Cote d’Azur, I gulped, took your shoe advice and bought the Gentle Souls black booties recommended in one of your previous posts about packing, They were divine on the trip, comfortable, fashionable and lightweight. So a shout out here to your shoe suggestions!!

  9. November 11, 2014 / 12:51 pm

    YES,THAT city always takes MY BREATH away!No matter how many times I visit!Which has not been enough because I realize I have NEVER been to PRINTEMPS CAFE on the ROOF!Thanks for the INFO!!!

  10. Duchesse
    November 11, 2014 / 2:20 pm

    My first visit, in the ’70s, was with a boyfriend who bought a sax there and busked under the bridges for our dinner money. Whenever I am back (which is not as frequently now that I’m retired) I think, “I must soak up as much of this beauty as possible and carry it home within me”.

  11. November 11, 2014 / 3:45 pm

    Like you, I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t a dream to see Paris. This year in September that dream came true ( I just turned sixty). It was as wonderful as I expected and even better than I dreamed. Your pictures are my pictures, also. I marveled every day that I was there and was so sad to leave but it is a time that will always be in my soul.

  12. November 11, 2014 / 4:14 pm

    It is SUCH a spectacular city, and I have always felt extraordinarily privileged every time I’ve visited or lived there. These pictures are marvelous. And I can feel the excitement that you must stil experience – with each visit – and revisiting through images and memories.

    Vive la France!

  13. November 11, 2014 / 5:02 pm

    I’ve been to Paris many times over the past 25 years, and it never, ever disappoints. This being Veterans’ Day, I can say that I have had several French people, strangers or virtual strangers, tell me that they will “never forgot” what the U.S. did for them in WWII.

  14. Marie-Odile
    November 11, 2014 / 5:14 pm

    As a French gal, I have a hard time making the difference between “Veteran’s Day” and “Memorial Day” in the US – But Nov. 11 is a holiday in France/Europe as well, as the commemoration of the end of WWI, which was supposed to be the “der des der” (last of the last)… Since history turned out differently, and this year marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI with ceremonies throughout Europe, I think we can also “never forget” the support of US and Canadian troops during that first major conflict as well…And I assume the origin of the holiday in the US as well. This was actually a “pacifist” holiday originally…

    • November 12, 2014 / 4:49 pm

      Bonjour de Montréal, Marie-Odile. In English, the expression “der des der” is rendered as “The war to end all wars”. Nowadays we know that its conclusion carried in it the germs of the Second World War.

      Of course Le Jour du souvenir/Remembrance Day commemorates both war dead and living veterans. We don’t have separate days for war casualties and living veterans (and those who died later on of various causes, only some of which were sequelae of service).

      Yes, it was very much a date to say “Never Again War!”

  15. November 11, 2014 / 5:43 pm

    I always love hearing about another person’s first Paris! It truly is a magic “OMG” moment in time. My first meeting of the city also makes my short list of “best days” – and Paris has been responsible for many of my bests since. Thanks for taking me back.

    And here’s hoping we all have many more best days to come!

  16. susie
    November 11, 2014 / 6:40 pm

    When I visited France a few years ago I bypassed Paris, only caught another flight to Marseille to visit family I had never met, but had sandwiches in the airport and had a feeling I need to visit. But once landing in Marseille ( a fantastic place) and heading up to Nimes and that area I have to say it was one of the most memorable trips of my lifetime. The tree lined highway through the farmland was so beautiful. That was a magical trip. I want to go back after all this time and so many life changes- I am a different person now but feel like the return trip will be yet entirely different. But the love of the people, the beauty, the history!! The food!! the sun!!

  17. Maria Manetas
    November 11, 2014 / 6:58 pm

    I, too, went to Paris for my 50th birthday in 2013. I took French for six years in high school and college and always wanted to go. My husband, two sons and I rented an apartnent in the Marais during June and stayed a week. It rained almost every day but I didn’t care, it was wonderful! My favorite moment was the morning I went out in search of chocolate croissants for my youngest and a French woman asked me for directions to the closest Metro station. I can’t wait to go back!

  18. nell
    November 11, 2014 / 7:54 pm

    I haven’t been back to Paris since I went there at 16 with my parents. But some of your photos look exactly like the ones we took, even to the quality of the light. It was huge fun– I think on the first day I got to see a street contretemps (sp?) that seemed so Parisian to me. There was a minor traffic mishap and men leaped out of cars and confronted each other passionately amid a torrent of words. I loved it and soaked it all in, as “local color”. Oddly, I did feel a bit more affinity for Rome, southern England and Dublin, I remember. Maybe Paris was too determinedly urban, and urbane, for my tender and diffident 16 year old self?

  19. November 11, 2014 / 8:34 pm

    I’ve only been to Paris once when I was a poor college student. I can’t say I had a fabulous experience (probably due more to lack of funds) but it wasn’t bad either. I would love to visit now and I know I will fall in love with it.

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

  20. November 12, 2014 / 12:17 am

    Paris is such a beautiful city and, being English, we are so lucky. We can just jump on Eurostar, spend the day in Paris and be back in England in the evening !!!! XXXX

  21. November 12, 2014 / 1:40 am

    I love Paris & like Jacqueline can jump on the Eurostar from London – it’s such a treat!

  22. Beth
    November 12, 2014 / 3:58 am

    I have been to Paris a few times over the years, with the last time being this past September.
    We have friends there who took my husband and I around to all the places that were special to them. The world war !! memorial in Normandy is a must see, as is Mont Saint Michele and the Brittany region. Also there is a wonderful cafe on top of the Pompidou center that has a spectacular views of the city.

    • November 12, 2014 / 5:00 pm

      There are several Second World War memorials in Normandy, at each of the beaches and elsewhere. A Parisian friend, very, very old now, who was in the Resistance as a very young man in Normandy, took me to Dieppe where there was an ill-fated landing of Canadian troops (mostly francophone), who were massacred. There are many monuments to them in the lovely little town, and a Québécois accent easily gets you a free drink.

      I’ve been to Centre Pompidou several times (and confess that I once had a summer romance with an artist who lived by doing tourist sketches there for a while) but never on the terrasse café. I have been to the roof of the Arab World Institute (Institut du monde arabe) that also has a lovely view across the Seine of Notre-Dame and the Marais.

  23. November 12, 2014 / 4:20 am

    paris is always, always magical! so happy you’ve gotten to live out your dream (and multiple times!)… there simply is nothing like paris.

    Sharon xx

  24. karinjansky
    November 12, 2014 / 5:18 am

    This is simply stunning! What a wonderful post with the most beautiful tribute to Paris!
    Greetings from the Périgord, karin

  25. November 12, 2014 / 6:32 am

    Like so many who have responded, I never get tired of Paris – can always look at photos and be transported to its beauty! Can’t count the times we’ve been, and always eager to return. Thanks for keeping the dream alive with this lovely post!

  26. Lynn Bert
    November 12, 2014 / 9:33 am

    I must be the minority here. I went to Paris past June during one of the rare heat waves. It may have been the weather or something, Paris did not seem that fantastic to me at all. It seemed all glittering, gold, and artificial. There was no charm at all. I was very disappointed, having read many of your travel entries and I was full of high expectations.

    In the same heat wave, I went on to visit several cities in Italy, which was the opposite of Paris. It was almost magical. The arts, the people (Italian men are really handsome!), the food, the scenery, etc, etc. I was overwhelmed by the country’s beauty, I did not even care about the heat, and I am yearning to go back there.

    Paris, maybe another day.

    • Susan
      November 15, 2014 / 3:43 am

      No, you are not alone about your thoughts of Paris. I much prefer Vienna and Rome over Paris. I first went to Paris aged 21 and have been several times since (am now 57) and just don’t understand people’s fascination. However, my husband and I did a very moving tour of the World War One battlefields as I have two great uncles (Australian) buried there and my grand father fought with the Australian Light Horse there as well.

  27. November 12, 2014 / 3:00 pm

    That’s a whole lot of wand-waving going on! It’s a dream of mine to go there too.

  28. Donna
    November 12, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    My husband and i visited Paris for the first time on our 1st anniversary. That was 14 years ago today! Your photos look just like many we took and they really bring back memories of that first, wonderful trip abroad! I love Paris and we just returned from our second trip there in September. It was equally fabulous! On this last trip it was me, my husband, and my 2 sisters… Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

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