Paris me manque.
Two years ago today, I left Paris.
Writing that out breaks my heart. I miss Paris so much.
I began my love affair with Paris at a young age. I have no idea what initially piqued my interest, but for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to visit Paris.
|Le Tour Eiffel|
My junior year of college, I finally fulfilled my dream and studied abroad in France. For three months, I lived in Versailles with a French family and took theatre, conversation, grammar, and culture classes with eleven fellow students from my school. Each Wednesday afternoon, we had a cultural field trip, like to the Musée d’Orsay or to Auvers-sur-Oise (where Van Gogh died). On the weekends, we had optional trips, but they were even cooler. One weekend we toured Giverny (Monet’s home and gardens), and another weekend we spent visiting Le Petit Trianon. I found out that recent French grads could teach English in France, and I vowed to return when I finished school.
|The grave of Vincent Van Gogh.|
After I graduated with my BA in History and in French, I worked as an au pair for ten months in Le Vésinet, the wealthiest suburb of Paris. This was one of the most challenging periods of my life. My boss (Pauline) was an Irish widow, whose late husband had been French. I took care of three kids: Orlaith (girl, 9), Léon (boy, 7), and Liam (boy, 4). Pauline had very demanding expectations, which she often didn’t voice. I only learned of my shortcomings when she would get upset with me or the kids after the fact. Luckily my mom’s cousin and his wife lived nearby, and I could always talk to them when I started feeling helpless at my job.
Even with my difficulties at work, these ten months were among the best in my life. I met three of the most amazing women who were fellow au pairs in the area: Ali, Crystal, and Jane. We were part of a larger group of friends who consisted of about 20 au pairs working in several adjacent suburbs.
|At the Fête de la Musique (L to R: Crystal, Ali, me, Jane)|
The four of us did everything together. Our kids overlapped at the same three schools, so we would hang out while waiting for our kids to come out, and on some days, let our kids play after school. Weekends were spent exploring Paris: the shops, the museums, the restaurants, the bars, the clubs, everything! Sometimes we just stayed in the suburbs and went to one of our favorite bars, either the British pub or the Portuguese bar.
On one of our last days together, we went into Paris to get matching tattoos. All of us now have the same tattoo on our right foot. Every time I look at my foot, I think about Ali, Crystal, and Jane, and how they changed my life for the better.
My final period in France was when I taught English in Niort for seven months. I flew into France a week early so I could spend time with Jane, who had extended her au pair contract. Ali was almost done traveling Europe, and her trip back to Paris overlapped with mine. Our reunion was brief, but joyous, and we skyped with Crystal as much as possible during those days. Then I was off to Niort, to teach high school and middle school students.
|Near the center of town, less than a ten-minute walk from my apartment|
I loved teaching English, and I miss my students to this day. I had some great colleagues, and I met some cool internationals who were teaching their native languages. I also met some locals via couchsurfing, and I even joined them for the first ever Thanksgiving! My trips to Paris were less frequent, but still memorable. I spent long weekends with my cousins in the suburbs, who I visited for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Easter, and a few other times just because I could. Don’t forget the guys I dated in Paris…
|The Champs Elysées at Christmastime|
I stayed a few weeks past my contract to travel. My best friend Mark came to visit me for my last twelve days, during which we toured Paris, London, and Nice. Sharing my second home with my best friend was such a memorable experience, and I’m so honored that Mark wanted to visit me.
I still can’t believe it’s been two years since I left Paris. I spent so much time there, and in all of France. I truly left part of my heart behind. I’ve told Beau how much I want to go back, and I hope it will just be a year or two longer until I return. Paris is my favorite city in the whole world, and I just want Beau to love it as much as I do.
What do you miss? Has a city ever affected you as much as Paris impacted me?