One of the things I love best about living in England is the close proximity to mainland Europe and the diverse range of cultures on offer. The option of hopping onto the Eurostar train under the English Channel (thus avoiding the hassle of airports) further increases the appeal of nearby nations such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands as potential destinations. Major cities such as Brussels, Bruges and Amsterdam have proven to make ideal minibreak locations.
Yet as far as cities go, Paris calls me back more than anywhere else. She will always hold a special charm and magnetism all of its own for me, and I know scores of others feel the same way. My first visit was in my early teens and even then I recall feeling wowed by iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe that until then had only been theoretical places featuring in textbooks in French classes at school.
Since then, I have been drawn back several times. Anyone who has been will know that the beauty of Paris extends way beyond the architectural feats of the main tourist attractions. The authentic spirit of the middle ages lives on in her medieval streets, the whole city steeped in history and I can just imagine Bastille day and other events taking place in days gone by…
We prefer to stay in the 11th- by Canal St Martin. Popularised after being featured as a filming location in the hit movie Amelie, it feels like a real residential neighbourhood with Parisians going about their everyday lives rather than simply swarming with tourists in the way that some of the central areas tend to be. Bustling local markets abound with discerning shoppers examining the profusion of fresh produce and interacting with loud, enthusiastic stall holders. Previously working-class neighbourhoods on the banks of the canal have been transformed into more bohemian areas, yet maintaining its status as a home for people of many races, religions and different types of employment.
On our last visit, I loved to idle away time sitting on a bench on the bank of the canal, or standing on one of the pretty green Venetian metal bridges, just people-watching and admiring the oh-so-chic French dames as they purposefully stride along the pavements, heels click-clacking away.
Ah, yes. There is so much j’adore about Paris and France in general. My husband and I had begun making tentative plans to revisit Paris next Spring. For various reasons, the trip is not looking likely any more, le sigh. Yet rather than get downcast about the change of plans, I’ve chosen instead to fix my focus on weaving the essence of Paris into my everyday life. After all, a mini break, although wonderful, lasts a fleeting few days. But if I can successfully spritz my lifestyle with a Parisian influence then I can savour the pleasures as often as I wish.
Here are a few of the ways I intend to infuse my life a la Francais:
- Browse through my ‘Paris 1001 photos’ book- this is kept permanently on my windowsill to pore over when the mood takes me.
- Play my French cafe music CD and the Amelie soundtrack in my car.
- Watch French-language films from the library especially ones that were filmed in Paris.
- Wear scarves tied in different ways and my Breton striped top.
- Eat French food- There is so much delicious French food. Baguettes are one of my favourites, with the crusty bread paired with Brie and a salad making a tasty lunchtime meal.
Do you aim to infuse your own life with a particular influence in a similar way? If so, I would love to hear about it. Make my day and leave a comment below 😊