A Field Guide on How to Paris | Travel Diary


When I found out that my family was taking me to Paris this summer as a graduation present, I flipped. I mean, what teenage girl doesn’t dream of the day she can roam manicured bushes of Les Jardin des Tuileries or scoot around on a cute Parisian boy's Vespa like Mary-Kate in Passport to Paris?

Naturally, I decided to surround myself with as much Parisian culture before leaving. This included strengthening my conversational French skills, chopping my locks into a chic Marion Cotillard-inspired bob, and buying the ultimate field guide: How to be Parisian Wherever You Are.
   But, the Paris I had imagined from the cinema was definitely not the Paris I was greeted with. Somehow while I was preparing for my trip, I had completely forgotten that Paris was a tourism-filled city. And every city has its bad parts. As I walked underneath the Arc de Triomphe, I dodged tourist after tourist, and selfie stick after selfie stick. In the midst of dodging these almost-angry villager-like pitchforks, I stepped into a puddle of, yes, a yellow liquid that I would have not preferred to get on my brand new oxfords.
   Desperate to get the full Parisian experience, I decided to use How to be Parisian Wherever You Are’s tips to solve my problems.

Three takeaways:

  • Walk with an air of dignity and self-confidence. You are important, and you are going somewhere important, even if that happens to be la laverie.
  • Don’t wear piles of makeup. Show off your natural face and just maybe add a slap of lipstick to really bring out your inner Parisian.
  • Be spontaneous and do things when you feel like. Go to a sidewalk café and order an espresso at 1 am. It’s okay. 
   The book really cheered me up. In no time, I carelessly was walking past all of the things that bugged me at first with a new-found confidence. No longer did I feel as though the selfie sticks waving in the air resembled the pitchforks of angry villagers in a mob.

My favorite part was biking through Paris in the rain. It was everything it sounds like, and trust me, there were quite a few other movie moments. I biked right through the Louvre’s courtyard and down quiet cobblestone side-streets. But honestly, who can go wrong with wandering through the flea markets and finding historian treasure? I mean vintage flapper shoes, feathered caps, and fashion sketches!

Forget the worries of the present, and let yourself float back in time to the rocking smoky cabaret days of the Roaring '20s, to the heightened days of the beautiful Bell Epoque in Montmartre; sit atop your balcony and admire the characteristic blue roofs and polished architecture; picnic along the Seine on a glorious cool afternoon or under the Eiffel Tower for Sunday Brunch; sit with fresh baguettes from your corner bakery and fruit from the street market. I think things really change when you embrace whatever you are doing, despite the little things that may bug you. It all starts with embracing the process and becoming a part of the environment and history around you.

As for you, Paris, I will see you soon.

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