I love my husband; I love my three kids – immensely. Yet, I needed to rediscover myself after 17 years of togetherness, 13 years of raising kids and decades of demanding – 24/7 and always on — work. I was missing a pulse.
Like so many working women or stay-at-home moms, we need a jumpstart to rewire and reconnect with ourselves. We need to check-in, and ask ourselves, “How am I doing?”
In my case, I desperately needed to be with a few dear, old friends who knew me long before I was married with kids – those friends whom we grew with through crazy adventures, those who we travelled with to foreign places with utter spontaneity, those whom we shared the ups and downs of new cities we moved to for work, and those friends who endured hours of phone calls about the trials of young men who came and went, and finally about the one who stuck.
I called the perfect friend for the job- Connie – who I’ve known for 25 years, but we – sadly – live across the country from one another (me, in NorCal, and she in Philly), and are lucky if we see each other every few years. I insisted Connie join me in Paris – I did not allow her to say no. She ardently agreed, and I was appreciative because it takes a good friend — one whom you’ve known for decades — to help you get your groove back.
Connie and I were exotic travelers in the third world (S. America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia); Why would we want to go to Paris, a place we had both been many times before with husbands and children?
It was a friend’s wedding that inspired the trip to Paris; a friend who was getting married for the first time – late in life — whom since the day I’ve known her (now 32 years), had inspired to marry a Frenchman and spend the rest of her life in Paris, and she did it. There was no way either one of us was going to miss the big event.
We figured out our timelines of festivities for the wedding and acquired tickets to see a contemporary interpretation of “Romeo & Juliet,” a ballet that was being performed at the Paris Bastille theatre. Other than that, we wanted to take ourselves out of our comfort zone, be completely spur-of-the-moment and didn’t want to give into the demands of social di rigueur of what one must do when one goes to Paris. We went where the streets and our emotions took us.
The Ground Rules
Between Connie and me, we had been to Paris over a dozen times, so we agreed to stay in a district we had not stayed in previously. We opted to stay 6th arrondissement (district) near Luxembourg Gardens, not far from the Latin Quarter and an incredibly convenient location if you want to walk most everywhere.
We chose the boutique hotel of Hotel Saint-Paul Rive Gauche (4 stars) because of its location and ease of getting in and out of the hotel (only 31 rooms). Little did we know that we’d be staying in a two-story room adjacent to a two-story atrium, which gave us the feeling of staying in the middle of a garden. With the hotel’s friendly staff and delicious complimentary breakfast’s each morning, we were taken by the charm of this quaint hotel and its interesting history. The hotel is situated on the line of the Paris’ former outer wall under Phillipe Auguste during the 17th century. The building was once home to Franciscan monks.
And where did the streets and our emotions take us? Well, here of course:
• Tour the Paris Opera House
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera.It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its architect, Charles Garnier. Not only is the Palais Garnier the most famous opera house in the world, but likely the most beautiful building in Paris.
• Eat macaroons and drink hot chocolate (regular or white) at Angelina’s
“In 1903 the confectioner Antoine Rumpelmayer founded Angelina, which he named after his daughter-in-law. For over a century the tearoom has built a reputation as a place of sophistication and indulgence. As soon as it opened, Angelina became the place to be among the Parisian aristocracy. Proust and Coco Chanel rubbed shoulders with the biggest names in fashion in Angelina’s salons.”
• Ride the Ferris Wheel at Place de la Concorde
Riding the Grande Roue de Paris is the one touristy thing we did, but the views of Paris were amazing, and it gave us the chance to take in Paris from a different vantage point. The 200ft high Ferris wheel has become a kind of Parisian landmark, with its glittering lights illuminating the night sky. But the best part, naturally, is the ride itself. You have a unique 360° view of Paris, with a bird’s eye view of the iconic Louvre Museum, Grand Palais, and Champs-Elysées avenue.
• See the Paris Ballet
What a treat it was to see a contemporary interpretation of “Romeo & Juliet,” and because the ballet was held at the Bastille Paris, opera singers doned the performance while the dancers performed on an elevated and titled 3-dimensional stage.
• Visit l’Orangerie
The Musée de l’Orangerie is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings being the permanent home for eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet, the museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, , among others. We didn’t want the crowds of the Louvre and were lucky enough to hit l’Orangerie a new traveling exhibit of those American artists inspired by Monet, “The Water Lilies. American Abstract Painting and the Last Monet.”
• Eat a Crepe at a French Café outside, late at night, and enjoy
Visit a traditional French Café, one that serves crepes and/or Escargot, and be one as the French with a glass of wine or Champaign of course!
I won’t lie. The trip was emotional. It is tough to pull myself away from my children and travel halfway around the world. It is tough to realize how many years have gone by since you last hung out with your friends like this. It is tough to say goodbye to your old friends, not knowing when you will see them again. Yet, it takes a village of good and dear girlfriends to help get your groove back. And, for that, I am grateful.
Norwegian Air Shuttle
As a first-time traveler with Norwegian Air Shuttle, I was very impressed. These are new 787 Dreamliner airplanes with stellar features such as more legroom space, larger windows with mood lighting, and a full entertainment system. The best part of all is that you get to bid on premiere seats, which I did, so I sat in what is essentially first/business class for a few hundred dollars more.
Hotel Saint-Paul Rive Gauche
43 rue Monsieur le Prince
Tel +33 1 43 26 98 64