Audrey Hepburn was quoted as saying “Paris is always a good idea”, but as I packed my bags to leave London, I was questioning this advice. I was so enjoying my time in South Kensington that I could hardly bear the thought of saying good-bye to the city I’d only just grown to love. Nevertheless, I boarded my flight en route to Charles de Gaulle airport.

My first lesson? Take the train next time. Although my flight was dirt-cheap, it ended up being a long day of travel, what with multiple forms of public transit to get to and from the airports. Once I finally arrived at my Airbnb, however, I was back in agreement with Audrey; my little studio apartment was absolute perfection, located on Avenue Victor Hugo just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the Arc de Triomphe. I wandered out for an evening stroll, the skies only beginning to fade despite the late hour.

My intention was to find a coffee shop in which to get some work done, but the next morning I did something I’d be wishing to do for a long time; I put on my running shoes and hit the pavement. Dodging tourists, I ran to the Palais de Chaillot, then down through the gardens of the Eiffel Tower. The footpath along the Seine took me over the Lovelock bridge, and over to the grounds of the Musee d’Orsay. Looping back, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to be lucky enough to enjoy such a morning.

As I settled in to get some work done in the afternoon, I decided that the most logical place from which to work was the Starbucks down the street. It seemed like the polite thing to do, as the cafes and coffee shops of Paris are far too sophisticated to set up a laptop for a few hours of work, and the closest co-working spaces were about an hour away. I ordered an iced matcha and hunkered down at a corner table. Shortly after, a girl asked me if the seat next to mine was taken. I responded in English, without thinking, and she lit up with a smile. “Oh! You speak English…are you Canadian?”

We spent the next hour engaged in conversation. Originally from Ottawa, Mona is living in Paris, and previously spent time in Nunavut. She gave me some great ideas for my dissertation, and we chatted school, work, and living abroad. It was an absolute delight to have crossed paths with such a kindred spirit.

The following day, I started my morning once again by getting outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. My sister, Ryleigh, had highly recommended checking out Angelina for “the world’s best hot chocolate” when we FaceTimed the night before. Our love for hot chocolates must be a family thing, and I couldn’t resist. I set out towards Angelina on foot, but upon reaching the Arc de Triomphe, I decided on a whim to purchase a ticket and head up.

I could almost hear Bob, Maggie, and Danielle as I climbed the winding stairs up to the top lookout. In August 2017, on my way to Russia, I had an extended layover in Paris and Danielle came to meet me. Our dates in Paris coincided with my second parents’ (and Danielle’s aunt and uncle), Bob and Maggie. We had a whirlwind adventure together, with amazing food, sightseeing, and so much laughter.

Onto Angelina I went, and Ryleigh was spot-on about the hot chocolate. It was decadent. I even picked up a small box of macarons, which I snacked on as I walked over to the Louvre gardens.

As I walked to the Palais de Chaillot that evening, I was reminded of my very first night in Paris, back in 2005 with my mom. We had jumped on a double-decker tour bus and arrived in front of the Eiffel Tower just as the lights were turned on. It hadn’t been an easy year for our family, and we already knew that there were going to be some hard days on the horizon, but in that moment we were filled with so much light.

Paris is always a good idea.

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