Regaining My Joie de Vivre in Paris
by Karen Sgambati
(Fort Lee, New Jersey USA)
2010 was a wonderful year for me, one that was welcomed with open-arms following what had been a difficult two-year period. Life goes through ebbs and flows and when you're in an ebb, you can become numb to the joy of life around you. I was determined to regain my joie de vivre.
I decided to take a two-month sojourn to Paris, by myself, to restore my soul and regain my joy for living. 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 months made my heart sing and mind swirl with anticipation. I starting out my adventure 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 in the neighborhood was to find myself a place to anchor, a little neighborhood cafe where I could sit and unwind before heading up to the apartment, and relax over my morning coffee and croissant. Paris is overflowing with such cafes, visitors are seldom 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 early October, and the weather was just resplendent --sunny and warm, crisp and clear – the perfect weather in which to walk. Walking through Paris is truly the the best way to see it, exploring the nooks and crannies brings forth something new and interesting with every turn. I found myself waking up each morning with anticipating of what the new day would bring. I took full advantage of all the cultural treasure Paris has to offer including the numerous art exhibits where Monet held me transfixed by his incomparable talent and I started to walk around the Louvre as if I were in the home of an old friend. The evenings were filled with wonderful restaurants, music and new friends. Whether I was listening to Michael Buble at the Bercy, or the talented pianist at the neighborhood bistro, I was equally rapt.
The best gift of this trip however, may have been the quiet time of reflection and peace I luxuriated in, 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, I began to notice the vibrant colors that surrounded me, the enticing aromas that wafted out of the cafes and the small details of beauty that infiltrate every day life in Paris. Sitting outdoors at a charming cafe, a glass of wine in hand, became my favorite way to watch the world go by.
The weather started to turn much colder in December, but this seasonal change brought in it's own allure. Seeing the promenade at the foot of the Eiffel Tower glistening with a carpet of fresh, white snow under it's twinkling lights is majestic. The Champs Elysee became a winter wonderland, decorated with thousands of lights down the boulevard and the smells of Christmas wafting from the holiday vendor booths. I left Paris in late December, the two months seemed to fly by with the blink of an eye and my heart was filled with sadness. I spent the plane trip home thinking about the next time I would return.
The Parisians really do know how to live their lives with a sense of beauty every day and the element of joie de vivre. Not only do they take time to stop and smell the roses, they pick up a freshly-baked baguette along the way.
I created a video highlighting some of my favorite photographs taken during my stay. I hoped to capture the essence of Paris, her whimsical yet sophisticated personality, as seen through my eyes. I hope you enjoy: