Monday, January 11, 2016

a letter to myself...

After years of dreaming about Paris I took the plunge last spring and travelled to Paris.
It was a bit of a risk...travelling alone.

Having never flown to Europe or been on a flight longer than 4 hours I wondered if the flight would be daunting or if I would experience anxiety.
There were so many unknowns...
I was optimistic and did not let any doubts cloud my determination.

A carry on with 3 weeks worth of clothes and cosmetics was packed with the help of seasoned carry on advocates whose posts on blogs and Pinterest that I avidly followed before departing.

I stayed awake the entire flight from Vancouver to Paris...9 hours and a time change were involved.

The service on the direct Air France flight was amazing...champagne and crisps were served shortly after take off...the dinner menu circulated and there were 3 options for dinner which included wine and dessert...all included in the original airfare fee...no added expenses.
The bar cart came by regularly, but I did not imbibe as I had heard that too much alcohol at 30,000 feet might not be a good idea...and I wanted to arrive in France fresh, with a clear head.

At Charles De Gaulle airport I was met by a limo driver and whisked off to my hotel...
after I checked in I unpacked and stored my extra credit cards and euros in the safe.
I ventured out and explored the area around my hotel.
The Sorbonne and The Luxembourg Gardens were nearby...the streets were crowded with people and the shops and cafes were bustling...
Fresh air, the Parisians strolling along the boulevards.


I was in Paris and felt so alive and energetic!
I walked for hours...and while I walked I kept thinking...this is really happening!

The Monoprix was located a short 3 minute walk from my hotel so I popped in and purchased cheese, a small baguette, fresh strawberries and a bottle of wine. Dinner was easy fresh and tasty...
I opened the windows wide so I could hear the sounds from the street below.


I took a refreshing shower and put on my nightgown ~ inviting sleep...
as difficult as it was to close my eyes on Paris ~ I did.

Awakened after about 6 hours of slumber around 6am by the street sweeper...
and just in case you were curious, it was a man with a broom!


The days become a bit of a blur...I packed so many things into each day.
(I kept a travel journal)
I met up with friends before the official start of the Ooh La La Tour.
Friends were renting an apartment about 5 minutes from my hotel in the 6th.
(they are seasoned travellers and visit every year in springtime for 2 months)

They took me "under their wing" and showed me the sights...we walked for many hours every day.
I took in all the sights and sounds...the city is truly enchanting...but that is a serious understatement.
You have to find out for yourself.


With so many museums, galleries, shops, cafes, and parks one has an opportunity to see and experience new things every day...and I never felt overwhelmed and absorbed as much culture and ambiance as one could in 2 weeks.


Jamie Cat Callan, author and our tour leader asked us to write a letter to ourselves about how Paris has affected us and she collected them and she sent them to us this Christmas.
I recently received my letter in the mail...


I wept when I read my letter.
It was written with such passion about what I was seeing, living and how I was feeling.
WOW!

I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to take this trip.
It was a "big deal."
I had never been apart from my husband for more than 4 days.
Here I was taking off to France for 3 weeks and it was expensive.

After Paris I took the TGV and travelled to the south of France where I spent an idyllic week in the one of the most beautiful villages where friends were living.
They showed me the sights and drove me to other quaint villages.
I wandered about the village daily exploring and taking pictures.
I will remember...
The busy weekly market day, the cafes, the shops, the food, and the friendly people.
It was wonderful to experience the daily routines of life in the country.
The pace is slower and the scenery is exquisite.
It was difficult saying goodbye when it was time to leave...


Travelling to France was a gift to myself.
On the occasion of my 60th birthday...
a trip that I had dreamt about for as long as I can remember had become a reality.
It was selfish in many ways but looking back it has satisfied me and quieted a yearning.
I am content.
If I never travel far again it matters little...
having had this time in Paris.

Following my dream was worth it...
I have great memories
wonderful pictures and I met lovely women on the tour.
We are connected by our mutual experiences and I think of them often.


Roses in Paris on Rue Racine

Thank you for stopping by...
Hope your week is off to a great start.
Hostess

58 comments:

  1. A journey in every sense. What fabulous pictures, so beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Linda...it was an amazing experience. One that exceeded my expectations...

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  2. Beautiful post! But darn it, now you've triggered my wanderlust. Want sunshine! Cheese! The Barbie exhibit at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs!

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  3. Paris is the city of my dreams! I don't think that I could ever tire of it. The gift of Paris never stops creating beauty and elegance in our lives. Do you think that you will take more French classes? You seemed to enjoy the teacher a lot. I prepare lessons from Le Monde each week for my student and I find that discussing a current event from the online version
    keeps me feeling a little connected. Heureux lundi!

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    1. Madame..we share this love affair...you across the straits and so much more fluent than I could ever be...I adore my French teacher from Paris...she is now tutoring my friend and walking partner...who excels in French! I read French Vogue every chance I get but it takes me many hours!

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  4. What a wonderful experience. This will stay with you forever! How nice is that??? Will you take a second trip to France? I am told repeat trips expand on the first. It seems like you even have a circle of friends living in France. Ideal. Susan

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    1. Susan...I am not sure if I will ever return to France...I live a very humble life...and although I have numerous friends that live and visit France I am not sure that I will be able to visit again...but having said that...it was a trip of a lifetime.

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  5. This was a great post. Thank you. I am glad you got to do your trip. I will be fulfilling my dream this June in going to London. Two weeks by myself without my husband or son. Museums, churches, galleries all on my own time. I am hoping that nerves do not kick in.

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    1. Sounds like a great trip planned..hope you enjoy every second!!!

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  6. It was so lovely to read this, and to see how your trip to Paris really is the gift that keeps on giving! Wonderful memories!

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    1. It was an amazing holiday...still happy and think of it often.

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  7. What a lovely overview of your trip. Thank you.

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    1. :-)) thank you for hanging in here and reading my posts...

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  8. There is a wonderful essay by the late great Henry Mitchell, who wrote for the Washington Post, about an aunt of his who lived her life to the fullest and, having done so, was content as she grew older. She lived out her last days in the Low Country of South Carolina, where Indigo Buntings swooped about the Live Oak trees. Funny how it works out when you truly follow your dreams.

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    1. Oh I must read more about this Indigo Buntings...she sounds like my kind of spirit. Thank you for mentioning her...will do some research.

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  9. Thank you for writing to us about you trip and thoughts after a year. I, too, will be taking a dream trip this year to England to follow a passion for British history. Although the timing isn't great as I am unemployed right now, I know I will not regret going.

    Deana

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    1. Deana...I feel the energy and excitement in you words!
      British History, the museums, and the architecture will amaze you...I am speaking not from personal experience but from that of my friends...and their pictures!

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  10. That was a lovely post!!! I love it! Felt like i was catching a glimpse of Paris! Our son and daughter in law went in October and have lovely pictures. So glad your dream came true!

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    1. Thank you Beach Gypsy...I have oodles of pictures and so many wonderful memories...it was a dream come true.

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  11. Fabulous! Sounds like the most wonderful holiday and will provide memories for so long to come.
    Liz

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    1. It will keep me happy for years....nice to see your comment and to read your post today!

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  12. Wow! what an amazing trip. Thank you for sharing about it today. What a wonderful gift to yourself and your family. Yes, your family. They will benefit from your Paris and South of France experience as well since it seems your perspective may have changed, too. I now know what I'll be doing when my 60th comes along. Thanks for the inspiration. Cheers!

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    1. I hope you enjoy your birthday celebration....it is worth acknowledging the milestone with something special...for me it was a trip...hope you have something spectacular planned!!

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  13. What a wonderful post! I can just feel your excitement! As always, your pictures are wonderful. My husband and I went to Germany in November to visit our daughter and her family, and I had a somewhat similar experience. (Although Paris is my big dream, too.) Thank you for sharing this .
    Mary Lou

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    1. Mary Lou...you are a traveller so it sounds like you can visit France and Paris...savour every moment and write in a journal so that you will never forget the exotic beauty of the people and the city.

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  14. What a great gift you gave yourself for your 60th. So glad the memories are so strong too.

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    1. Kathy...those memories were a long time in the making...planning and then living them. I only wish that I could paint them...but that might be percolating!

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  15. This wonderfully written post illustrates what I think happens when you travel. Your heart gets larger. It has to in order to contain all the wonderful people and places you fall in love with. I have to disagree with something you said though. I don't think it was selfish at all for you to take that long dreamed of trip for your 60th birthday. Often as women I think we are used to doing things for others, but feel a twinge of guilt if we do something for ourselves. I think your trip to Paris was probably long overdue after years of parenting and work. :-)

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    1. It felt selfish to me...I am not a big spender. I am thrifty, make do and mend.
      I grow things, tend roses, and cook from scratch...but at 60 it felt appropriate that I go...to Paris. I might agree....that my trip was deserved.
      XO

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  16. A lovely remembrance of a wonderful trip. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I remember when you took you grand daughter...such lovely posts.
      I think that you inspired me...
      XO

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  17. Hello and what a great post! I'm English and live in the UK. We pop over to France quite often as it's a very short journey. However my dream is to visit New York. I've wanted this for so many years - one day I will hopefully visit!

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    1. NY sounds exciting and you must follow your dream...
      MR. HB would agree...and his wish is to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece Fallingwater in PA.
      We are saving and planning to make that happen.

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  18. Hello and what a great post! I'm English and live in the UK. We pop over to France quite often as it's a very short journey. However my dream is to visit New York. I've wanted this for so many years - one day I will hopefully visit!

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  19. Thank you for sharing your memories in this beautiful post, Leslie.

    It was an inspiring read and I am so happy that Paris was everything you wished it to be, and more!

    SSG xxx

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    1. Hi SSG...we have been reading each others blogs for so many years...I feel like we share a kinship. Thank you again!

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  20. oh leslie your trip sounds so much like mine. it was a trip of a lifetime for me too. i'm so glad i had the guts to do it b/c like you i'd never travelled that far alone. it was all so worth it. met wonderful women who are now friends for life. thanks for sharing your experience and bringing back memories for me. xo

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    1. Janet...
      you inspired me to take a risk and travel...I think it was because of you that I went.
      I felt such joy reading your posts when you were visiting those amazing gardens...and sharing the experience with such an amazing group of women.
      I feel so fortunate to have these memories...as I am sure that you do...
      I hope we meet up one day.
      XO

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  21. What a gift you gave yourself (and your family, as Lynne in NC says above, they definitely benefit from your trip in ways that will manifest themselves over the years)! If we did for travel expenses what we do for wardrobe expenditures and work out Cost Per Happy Memory rather than Cost Per Wearing, you'd clearly be showing a huge return on your investment. . .

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    1. I have to agree...travelling is exponentially a better investment over clothing!
      Rome awaits and I am eager to read about your trip....

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  22. Such a beautifully written post Leslie. It expresses all your excitement and love for Paris so clearly. I read it whilst stopping for a coffee during my walk and it brought back memories of my visits to Paris. You made a rather dull day so bright! :) like Kristieinbc my immediate thought was that by going you were not at all selfish. So many of us spend our lives happily doing things for others and putting their needs before ours that to do something purely for ourselves seems alien to us. I'm so glad you took this trip and I feel by writing about it with such passion and enthusiasm you may encourage others to do the same.
    Have a good week!
    Rosie

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    1. Maybe Selfish is not the most accurate word for how I felt...putting my wishes first and spending a large amount of money in the process is "new to me."
      Getting the letter in the mail rekindled my feelings and it prompted this post.
      Glad it brightened your day...

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  23. Such a lovely post, Leslie, and thank you for taking us along on your incredible journey! I eagerly read every word, but one of the statements that really struck me was at the beginning when you said "I opened the windows wide so I could hear the sounds from the street below." What a way to experience every tiny detail! Your trip was surely everything you'd hoped for. jenmiller

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    1. Oh and those sounds were very foreign than those I hear at home...the ambulances and police cars have different sirens. The voices as they carried up one story from the street all speaking French and so many were speaking very fast...the cars...it all felt like music.

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  24. This warmed my heart! Good for you for doing something out of your comfort zone and making the very most of this experience. I loved your monoprix picnic! #dusomethingnu

    How sweet that they sent that letter to you to remind you of your experience.

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    1. I thought it was very kind of Jamie to think of this too.
      I like #dusomethingnu...will try to do it more often!

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  25. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience.
    Margaret P

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    1. It is my pleasure to write this post and I thank you for reading it and leaving me a comment...comments are the highlights to my posts.

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  26. I really enjoy your blog. This is such a heart felt emotional post. I was struck by your love of this special trip and especially of Paris. It reminds me of the importance of gratitude. I did go to Paris myself two years ago, it was part of a long European tour. I was not especially impressed by Paris, I very much enjoyed Italy and its many cities instead. So although we may travel, whether the trip opens our minds or our hearts quite depends on our state of mind. You dreamed of Paris, I instead dreamed of Italy and that is where I enjoyed the most of my trip.

    I have been to Vancouver Island and I so wish I could live there myself, like you. But perhaps what I need is to appreciate where I am now, in sunny California. Thank you for reminding me that today.

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    1. Living our dreams...such a luxury.
      Sunny California is where my sister is vacationing right now so I know how lovely the weather has been and we have grey skies and drizzle...we must live in the moment and be grateful...that is what keeps us content.

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  27. Paris is definitely an enchanting city, and I'm glad you decided to go.
    I'll always remember a wonderful trip to Paris. I stayed with my friend,(who owned the Hermes boutique in Naples Florida) at her apartment in the 16th.
    It was a fabulous trip, and we had so much fun, and I treasure those memories, because we can never recreate the magic of those days.

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    1. Oh that must have been a fun trip!
      You could write a post about it...sounds like readers would enjoy hearing the details... :-))

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    2. I wrote a few posts on my blog back then, when I was in Paris. I had a few bespoke designs on order with Hermes at the time; but the highlight of my trip was being offered a Himalayan Birkin.

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  28. What a wonderful set of memories. France is a magical place.

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  29. Like you, I spent my 60th B-day in France. Paris is nice but I enjoy visiting other parts of the country.

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  30. I am so in awe of your travel so far alone. I've only traveled to New Hampshire alone. I am such a ninny when it comes to travel. I've loved hearing about your trip and how special it was for you.

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    1. I had no idea what lay ahead on my journey but it had been a dream of mine for so long that I dug deep for the courage and it paid off! Jamie Cat Callan is doing another tour in Paris and one in Nice if you are at all interested in joining a group of women on their explorations...Jamie has a website...just google her name!

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