Restoring my Joie de Vivre: Solo in Paris
by Karen Sgambati
(Fort Lee, NJ)
2010 was a wonderful year for me, one that was welcomed with open-arms after following what had been a difficult two-year period. As most people can attest, life goes through ebbs and flows and it's during times of adversity, a prolonged ebb so to speak, that we can lose sight of our joy for life. Once you've experienced joy, you never lose sight of it, but it can become lost in the shuffle of everyday circumstances.
I decided to take a two-month personal sojourn to Paris, by myself. I simply love to travel, and I've never been one to shy away from a new adventure or experience. The thought of having Paris to myself for two glorious months was making my heart sing and mind swirl. I decided to start by renting a beautiful apartment in the Marais district. Located in the 4th arrondisement, the Marais district is vibrant and lively, close to the center of Paris, and very commuter friendly. The first thing I did upon arriving was to find myself a "place" to anchor, a little neighborhood bistro where I could sit and relax before heading up to the apartment, and languish over my morning cafe. Paris is overflowing with such cafes, no one is ever without a touchstone for long.
I quickly adapted to the cadence of Parisian life, and allowed my internal clock to reset to a blissful pace. I arrived in early October, and the weather was just resplendent --sunny and warm, crisp and clear – the perfect weather to walk. Walking through Paris is truly the only way to see it, exploring the nooks and crannies brings a sense of wonder and whimsy with every turn. I arose every morning with anticipation, never knowing what the day would bring. I took in the numerous art exhibits that happened to be in town, captivated by Monet, walked around the Louvre as if I was in my living room. The evenings were filled with wonderful restaurants, concerts and new friends. I saw an electrifying group of talented French musicians at the Folies Bergeres, with a special appearance by Stacey Kent and Nathalie Dessay, a Michael Buble concert at the Bercy, and listened to the pianist at the local café with equal enthusiasm.
I think the greatest gift of this trip may have been the quiet time of reflection I had, walking about this incredibly beautiful city and feeling renewed hope as I lightly danced down the cobblestone streets and boulevards alike. My senses came alive. Sitting at one of the charming outdoor cafes, a glass of chilled champagne in hand, is a fabulous way to watch the world go by.
The weather started to turn much colder in December, but it was a welcome change. Seeing the promenade by the Eiffel Tower glistening with a carpet of fresh, white snow under it's twinkling lights is majestic. The Champs Elysees became a winter wonderland, decorated with lights throughout the boulevard and the holiday vendor booths. I was scheduled to come back to the states right before the holidays and much to my chagrin, the two months simply flew by. My heart was filled with sadness, and a hopeful thought about a time when I could return.
The Parisians really do know how to live with beauty every day of their lives. Not only do they take time to stop and smell the roses, they remember to pick up a baguette along the way.
I created a video (you'll find it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-iNecN21fs) highlighting some of my favorite photographs taken during my stay. I hoped to capture the essence of Paris, the whimsical yet stately personality, as seen through my eyes. I hope you enjoy: