I had every intention of renting a tiny studio in Paris. But when I mentioned the idea to my friend Yves, he offered to let me stay with him. I said yes. And thank you.
I arrived in Paris on a Monday morning, itching to see everything despite the jetlag. Standing in line, waiting to get through customs and actually step foot into the city.
I had the luck to get a chatty taxi driver, who told me all about the places he had travelled in this world and how he had fallen in love with the city and stayed. He wanted to know what my plans were, recommending places that were already on my list. But I was grateful for his energy, his enthusiasm because it mirrored mine.
He dropped me off at Yves’ place, where I was floored by the beautiful apartment, ambiance and warm smile of my friend. He gave me some time to adjust and to shower. Then he took me to the Champs-Élysées. Since it was a work-day, he went to work and pointed me to the Arc de Triomphe.
I walked around in awe, taking close-ups, then portrait photos, then landscape photos then zoomed out and took shots of every detail on the arc. Inside, I was screaming ARE YOU SEEING THIS!? to myself at every turn.
I had the luck (or misfortune) to be in Paris during a heatwave. Did you know that you have to climb a very long spiral staircase to get up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe? I didn’t either.
Thankfully, I packed a half litre of water in my Fjallraven bag and took it one step at a time. I wasn’t the only one cursing the stairs as I walked them, but we all cursed and laughed at the same time. My first impression of Paris was one of entirely welcoming locals and tourists.
You can walk around the entire top of the Triomphe, seeing the Eiffel Tower, the lush green parks and busy streets. It whets your appetite for the city, the things you haven’t yet seen.
When I walked back down the spiral staircase, I sat in a shady section of the Arc and took it all in – the heat, the tourists, the eternal flame. And I wrote for what felt like hours in my journal.
(And nibbled on macarons from Pierre Herme. I mean. It is Paris.)