Paris, je t’aime. I love sitting at your sidewalk cafes, sipping espresso, dining on French omelets and Salad Nicoise.
I love strolling along the Seine at sunset and amid your beautiful gardens on a sunny afternoon, the Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg.
I love climbing the hills of Montmartre to look out over the spectacular city you are. I love your grand boulevards and tiny side streets, your elegant architecture and stately statuary. I will never tire of your vibrant markets, trendy shops, the lilt of the French language, your je ne sais quois.
I have been so fortunate to have had opportunities to get to know Paris. During the mid 1980s, when I was an international student studying in Amsterdam, I made several journeys by train to Paris.
On various trips to Armenia, Paris was our preferred stopover. We’d spend several days on the front end of each trip–joie de vivre–before continuing on to Yerevan and several days again on the tail end before heading home to Seattle. And this past May I visited Paris solo–seven glorious days all to myself soaking in everything Paris has to offer, exploring new neighborhoods and revisiting old favorites.
Four months had passed since the Charlie Hebdo shootings. I’ll be honest, I thought about it as my flight took off and headed overseas, and I thought about it as I wove my way through the city. At first, I walked and walked for miles, reluctant to ride the Metro. I kept my distance from large crowds. I took measures–so I thought–to be safe. But that didn’t last for very long, and I’m grateful I didn’t let my fear get the best of me, the best of my visit to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
As horrific as the attacks in Paris and Beirut last week are, I am reminded that the only way I can ensure my safety is to avoid getting on a plane, never sit at a sidewalk cafe, maybe never leave my house. And while I can’t say I live without fear, I know I don’t want to let fear be my guide. Because if I do, I will never be able to enjoy the adventures one experiences only if you leave the protection of your nest.
I love you Paris. One day I will see you again. For me you will always be the City of Light.
Take the road less traveled, Beth