“My mum cut her first trip to Paris short, vowing that one day she would take her future family there, and truly experience the beauties of the French capital. Nearly 30 years later, she did.”
When my mum was around my age (early 20s), she lived in the south of England, working as a nurse. With France just across the water, it was a dream of hers go to Paris. So she did. She jumped on the ferry and headed to the city of love.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well. A few days wandering around Paris by herself, trying to get excited about all the wonderful things she’d longed to see, she realised that she didn’t really want to be there. Not by herself anyway. There was no one there to share the experience, no one to put a love-lock on the bridge with, no one to wander the Louvre with, no one else to make memories with. So she cut her trip short, and headed back to England, vowing that one day she would take her future family there, and truly experience the beauties of the French capital.
Nearly 30 years later, she did.
We had been living as a family in England for several years when New Zealand unexpectedly called us home. We hadn’t made it across to France yet, and there was no way that I was coming all the way back across the world having not been to Paris. It’s Paris: you can’t not go. So with my determination, and my mum’s knack for finding cheap but nice hostels, we booked in a 2-day trip to Paris in mid December 2013.
I know what you’re thinking – you surely can’t do Paris in two days! But that was all the time we had. We booked two rooms in a 1-star hotel near the base of the Sacré-Cœur, and planned out our days so we could see as much of Paris as we could.
It was a whirlwind trip, I have to say. But we did a big self-made walking tour of Paris one day, taking in the Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and the outside of the Louvre. We tip-toed through Notre Dame, and wandered the streets of the Latin Quarter, stopping in at the Musée Rodin (the Rodin Museum), and looped back around to see the Eiffel Tower in the evening light.
Day Two saw us quietly stepping through the Sacré-Cœur and exploring the streets around that area, finding markets and drinking hot chocolate at the Christmas stalls. We even made a quick walk down to Moulin Rouge, took a picture or two, then walked away in haste (my little sister was quite young at the time – you understand).
While Paris in two days is not something that most people do, by the end of the trip we were all definitely glad we did it. Especially Mum. Her first trip to Paris had been a bit of a mess, but with her promise to herself, she finally made it back with a husband and 3 daughters to share the memories. Yes, it would have been nice to have more time to explore, get out into the countryside a little more, walk the halls of the Louvre, smirk at Mona Lisa, and put on a few more kilos of French pastries, but that was all the time we had.
One day I’ll go back, and truly explore, perhaps spend a month or so, but for now, knowing that Mum was able to have that brief experience in a city that she loved, with the people she loved, is more than enough for me.
Anjali Kay is a Kiwi in her 20s, whose love for travel started when she was just 18 months when her parents moved with her to Mongolia. That was just the beginning. You can follow Anjali’s adventures on her blog, thewanderingjandal.com.
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