This is a very hard post for me to write. This Saturday, I will leave one of my favorite cities in the world and the country that I have called home for almost the last year. But I'm departing on a good note.
If you had asked me at the beginning of this year (or even right before I moved to Paris) how I felt about living in France, I probably didn't give the most enthusiastic response. But the last three months in Paris have proven that I made the right decision to stay past the end of my term with the Assistantship Program...and it's even piqued my interest in returning to live and work in France. (The caveat is that it must be Paris. Only Paris.)
My second real séjour in Paris (not counting a few vacations here) got off to a slow start as I only knew less than a handful of people when I arrived in May. But in the last three months, I feel like I've met more people in Paris than I have in a year in New York City. Between taking a class at Alliance Française and joining the American Expat group on Meetup.com, I've met so many different characters from France, the U.S. and all over the world. While I probably won't see most of these acquaintances ever again, there are definitely many friends I have made in the last few months that I hope I can keep in touch with and visit in Paris again soon.
It's difficult (if not impossible) to recap all of my favorite Parisian moments this summer, but here's a quick list of some of the highlights:
- Visiting Chez Louis Vuitton and Café des Deux Moulins (the Amelie café) in the same evening
- Dinner at Chez Jim Haynes
- Watching World Cup 2010 matches at Miller's, The Thistle, Anna's apartment and the huge FIFA big screen at Trocadéro
- Hot chocolate at Angelina and eating frog legs with Yvonne (Y: "Why does every street begin with the word 'Rue?'")
- Château de Fontainebleau and Parc Disneyland with Rylan
- Fourth of July picnic and kickball at Bois de Boulogne
- Bal des Pompiers on both July 13 and 14 (the one in the 1eme was the best!)
- Staying at Café Oz until 5AM in the morning (Where did the time go??)
- Listening to Katia & Kyliemac podcasts (not so much a moment as something that added to the Parisian experience)
- Many relaxing afternoons at Parc Montsouris
- Many, many nights at The Thistle and La Perle
I'm sure I've even missed a few, but I have to shine the spotlight on celebrating my 26th birthday in Paris. This wasn't the first time I had celebrated my birthday in the City of Light, but it was certainly the best. When I studied abroad here in 2004, I turned 20 - and it was probably the worst birthday of my life. To simplify things, I wanted to watch the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées. (It was one of the years that Lance won, but I can't remember which one.) We got there early and waited all day, I got a bad sunburn, some girl knocked me over thinking I stole her spot (when I didn't), and no one knew it was my birthday. I ended up going to bed at 8PM.
Not so this year. Mon anniversaire vingt-six was more of a weekend event, starting with my last free trip to the Louvre. (All EU residents under 26 get into most museums for free, and that includes me and my work visa!) To clarify, I have been to the Louvre many, many times, but I love the building and it's fun to roam the emptier halls of the palace. That was followed by a party at the Great Canadian Bar on the Seine next to Saint-Michel on Saturday night. I invited friends from many different groups, but everyone mingled so well!
While I had planned a picnic at Parc Montsouris for my actual birthday on Sunday, it was a bit too cloudy, so we went to The Thistle pub and ordered pizza there. All in all, a lovely and fun weekend with friends, and it was definitely one of my favorite birthdays ever.
I had originally planned to make more use of my Carte 12-25 (discount rail pass for ages 12-25) and go on some weekend excursions. I'm still dying to go to Mont-Saint-Michel, as well as the Loire Valley, Champagne, Strasbourg, and Perpignan - among many, many other places. But there's always more to be seen in France, and even in Paris, which gives me plenty of reasons to return as frequently as possible.
It's not a conclusion, but a final note for this time: I love you, Paris, and you have no idea how much I'll miss you.