I tried to love Paris on my own. I did.
After all, Paris is the most visited destination in the world. It’s a dream city for millions of people around the world; romanticized endlessly in cinema and literature.
But love for some places comes easily (I fell in love with Hanoi the second I stepped out of the airport) — and for others it does not.
Perhaps I would have felt more passionately about Paris if I’d come as just a tourist; traveling through the city for a few days, intent on soaking up all that the City of Lights has to offer. But actually living in Paris…let’s just say, I have a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower from where I live, and I’ve stopped looking at it altogether.
But when my boyfriend Mike came to visit last week, everything changed. The rose-colored glasses came on in full force, and the city took on a whole new light. Seeing Paris through his eyes made me appreciate the city once more: its beauty, its history, its culture.
Suddenly, the Eiffel Tower looked like an architectural marvel; pain au chocolats tasted like breakfast from the gods; the murky Seine seemed like the most romantic river in the world.
Paris is a wonderful city for all travelers, solo or not. But for me, Paris is an experience meant to be shared.
A homemade meat and cheese platter with a bottle of €4 Beaujolais: before, this used to be just a snack I’d scarf down before or after work. But add in a partner and move the setting to the balcony, and you’ve got a simple, relaxed and romantic evening for two.
For some reason, I’ve become quite reserved in Paris. With Mike around, I finally let my hair down — from a three-hour Segway tour around Paris (yes, we are those people) and an afternoon picnic at the Eiffel Tower, to taking funny shots of the fountains at Place de la Concorde and animals unhappily bathing at the Louvre. It felt wonderful to be a little silly.
We made the most of the bad weather days; ominous rain clouds and chilling winds couldn’t stop us from enjoying a walk through the Tuilleries, the fountains at Trocadero, or an apéro in Montmartre.
If anything, they only made us appreciate the blue skies and warm weather that came in the days that followed even more.
Walks along the Seine and the Île Saint-Louis, one of two islands in the river, became our go-to afternoon activity. We didn’t put a lock on any of the bridges, but instead enjoyed gelato on the swelteringly hot spring days with our feet dangling over the river.
I had a blast taking Mike to all of my favorite spots in Paris — croque place, falafel place, salad place, cheesecake place — but also shared in the joy of exploring a new restaurant for the first time. For my birthday, we splurged and had brunch at Angelina and dinner at Verjus. I truly cannot recommend the latter highly enough.
The best part of the week, however, was just appreciating the simple things as we walked around the city; from spotting an old street sign on Île Saint-Louis to sipping a flat white in Montmartre. With Mike around, every little thing — about Paris, about life — felt more wonderful and right than it ever had before.
Paris, I tell you, is for lovers.