I'll Always Have Paris - 1010 Park Place
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I’ll Always Have Paris

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On my first trip to Paris, I went alone. I was in my mid-20s and new to living in London, whilst my first husband was working in Africa. I knew, however, that I didn’t want to experience the City of Light with him. Whilst he wasn’t a bad man, he could be unpredictable at times, and my vision of Paris didn’t include emotional outbursts under the Eiffel Tower. And by emotional outbursts, I don’t mean passionately kissing.

My vision of Paris was not strolling hand-in-hand, sharing lingering kisses on postcard pretty corners.

I wanted to be free to walk for as long as I wished, taking in the stunning sights and capturing every detail on film without anyone urging me to move along. I wanted to be able to stop in cute cafés whenever the mood struck me, to drink cold champagne without the risk of it being spoiled by disappointed, post-fight tears. And truthfully, I wanted to be able to eat my body weight in baguettes and French butter without giving a second thought to how I might feel later, as another body pressed against mine.

I envisioned my evenings spent happily alone, sitting in candlelit restaurant corners, scribbling in my journal. Even though I’ve never smoked, I could clearly see a Gauloise hovering at my lips, lit by a most handsome waiter who would otherwise ignore me.

That was my idea of a perfect Paris weekend, and it was exactly how it turned out. Not as good as I’d anticipated, but far, far better.

Since then I’ve returned more times than I can recall. I’ve been on work trips, with my mother, with a lover, I’ve even been just for lunch. I’ve had the great fortune to be able to spend a month ‘living’ in Paris over Christmas and New Years with my beloved second husband – not just once, but twice.

We’ve made the most wonderful memories together and had the fun of decorating our little rented apartment with a Christmas tree hauled up several flights of stairs. We’ve made fabulous friends for life there and have a local haunt where the waiters know us by name and greet us with exuberant hugs and multiple kisses each time we return after an extended absence. No matter how many times we visit, it will never be enough.

But Paris will always belong to me.

Sometimes I glimpse my younger self when I’m there. I see her standing on corners, looking up in wonder, or I catch her shining eyes reflected back at me in beautiful store windows. I find her sitting in cafés, immersed in a book or writing. I see her looking sublimely happy, finally falling a little in love with herself in the most romantic of cities.

It’s wonderful to have shared memories with loved ones, but there’s also something very special about creating ones that are yours, and yours alone.

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22 Comments

  • Haralee August 22, 2016 at 9:47 am

    I will always have Paris too!It is a magical city. How wonderful that you are able to spend time there often.

    • Esther Zimmer August 23, 2016 at 3:20 am

      Oh, how wonderful that you have Paris too! Haralee, even after 15 years of living in London I still find it a novelty having Paris so close! Esther xx

  • Michelle August 22, 2016 at 9:48 am

    How lovely. I’ve never been, but I really want to go.

    • Esther Zimmer August 23, 2016 at 3:22 am

      Michelle, it really is such a beautiful city so I hope you do get there someday. It still amazes me that I can get on the high speed train service in London, and be in Paris in just over two hours! Esther xx

  • Glenda August 22, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I smiled with my hands clutched near my heart as I read this delightful story. Thank you for taking me to Paris.

    • Esther Zimmer August 23, 2016 at 3:23 am

      And thank you for your lovely comment, Glenda! It brought a smile to my face. Esther xx

  • Laurie Stone August 22, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I love this. I’ve only been to Paris once, but would love to go back. Sounds like you have beautiful memories.

    • Esther Zimmer August 23, 2016 at 3:24 am

      Thank you, Laurie! Yes, so many beautiful memories which I’m really grateful for. Living in London makes places like Paris so accessible, which still feels like a novelty to me. Esther xx

  • Ellen Dolgen August 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    I love Paris, so I was immediately taken by the title of this blog. Your first experience with Paris is truly the most beautiful one that I have ever read about. How incredible to fall in love with yourself in Paris. The most important love of one’s life!

    • Esther Zimmer August 23, 2016 at 3:27 am

      What a lovely thing to say, Ellen. Thank you so much! I will treasure that first experience forever and I’m so happy that you love Paris too, it’s a magical place! Esther xx

  • 1010ParkPlace August 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Essie, How smart of you to realize what you wanted from that first trip to Paris! Even if we’re self-aware enough to do that, most of us aren’t able to or don’t fight for the opportunity to make it happen. That’s the ultimate in self-care. xoxo, Brenda

    • Esther Zimmer August 24, 2016 at 3:32 am

      Brenda, I’d had that vision of Paris in my mind for as long as I could remember and I decided it was up to me to do everything in my power to make the weekend as special as I imagined it could be. It was a gift to myself for having the courage to move to London alone! Essie xxxx

  • Suzi Hunn August 24, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Your day in Paris sounds lovely. Baguette with butter, time in the cafe to experience it how you want, without expectations of others. Love it!

    • Esther Zimmer August 25, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Suzi, I’m so grateful that I stuck firm with my decision to go on my own. I think I knew that it was the only way I’d really get the Paris I’d dreamt of for so long! Esther xx

  • Liz August 24, 2016 at 9:04 am

    A beautiful ode to solo travel

    • Esther Zimmer August 25, 2016 at 7:47 am

      Thank you, Liz! Far too often the positive side of solo travel is overlooked, I cannot think of a single trip I’ve intentionally made alone that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. Esther xx

  • Jen Lawrence August 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    What a wonderful story. I adore Paris. I’m so glad you have enjoyed it fully on your own terms!

    • Esther Zimmer August 25, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Thank you, Jen! Isn’t Paris just so easy to adore? A city that really does live up to it’s reputation, or at least that’s been my experience! Esther xx

  • Doreen McGettigan August 24, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    I haven’t been to Paris in so long, I think it’s time to plan a visit.
    What a beautiful picture your words painted of finding your younger self there, beautiful!

    • Esther Zimmer August 25, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Doreen, I hope you get back soon! And thank you, that trip was a blessing in so many ways. Esther xx

  • Marie Mack August 25, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Paris is on my list of places to visit. I was there when I was very young, but the memories are fading. Thanks for sharing!

    • Esther Zimmer August 25, 2016 at 7:51 am

      It sounds like it’s time to make some new memories, Marie! I hope you get back soon and that you enjoy every minute! Esther xx

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