The options are endless.
It's a big beautiful world out there and I want to see and taste it all.
There's just one little hurdle.
Despite my most ambitious fantasies to travel far and wide,
what I most want to do is go back to Paris again.... just like last year
and the year before.... and the year before that......
Paris is the draw -- or should I say the drug -- that serenades
our travel spirit, ties us up and reels us in year after year after year.
Sure, we include other fabulous European locales.
Last year it was Genoa and the Italian Riviera, the year before Budapest and
Pécs, this year Vienna and Salzburg -- nonetheless, we feverishly wrap our
"other" carefully chosen stops around one sure thing, our first love, Paris.
For us, there's Paris and then there's all the rest.
And all the rest remains in second place.
So why Paris?
What makes it number one with us and so many other travelers?
We're able to connect with France year round via mountains of
blogs, books, magazines and movies.
By design, we can literally "visit" Paris and the French Republic every single day.
Recently, my husband and I found ourselves happily immersed in
the French mini-series "A French Village" ("Un Village Francais").
Filmed in the glorious Jura region, it's an intimate and agonizing
soap opera that takes place in a small french town during the Nazi occupation.
The story is captivating with acting so good you won't even
mind the sub-titles; We can hardly wait for season two.
Then there's the Tour de France, bringing Paris and the
astonishing spectacle of France (not to mention the crown jewel of
professional bike racing) into our family room every single July.
Perhaps it's the never-ending supply of books about France -- historical
fiction in particular -- where we can devote as much time
as our hearts desire immersed our favorite destination.
As artistic and romantic capital of the world, Paris is
a very popular place for both reader and writer.
No deep thinking required,
It's easy to love Paris.
Paris makes a visitor feel like they belong.
In an instant, you'll sense that connection, an emotional wallop
that will remind you of when you first laid eyes on your soul mate,
dizzy in the realization that THIS IS IT.
If only it could be bottled.
My not-so-scientific-theory calculates it's the three C's
that lure us back to Paris year after year:
Caring Creative Colorful
Allow me to explain.
This is where my mind turns to french food and wine -- crusty bread,
luscious chocolate, hundreds of cheeses and decadent pastries
that both inspire and ruin us, Paris is the place for all
who adore the mysteries of a magical kitchen.
They cook and they eat as if it matters.
Paris spoils us with hundreds of specialty shops filled with exotic treasures.
Silky foie gras, salted butter caramels, and savory charcuterie paired
with a favorite red will transport anyone who can chew into ecstasy.
And it's not just food.
Kitchen boutiques, florist shops, fabric depots, antique
stores -- Paris is awash in passionate enthusiasm and expertise.
Aesthetics do count.
Elegant presentation, refined taste, every last detail
is considered, tended in a manner that would keep
a perfection expert like Downton Abbey's Mr. Carson happy.
From butcher to baker to fishmonger, the best of Paris
is showcased with style and an unrivaled eye to quality.
Paris may have a down side when it comes to the warm and fuzzy aspects
of hospitality but damn, there is no way you can quibble over the end result.
"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."
Victor Hugo, french literary hero
From their distinguished authors and poets to their celebrated artists
and visionaries, Paris stands at the head of the line
in imagination and creative achievement.
As you walk past the Musée d'Orsay, remind yourself that someone
had the vision to remake an old train station into one of
the most legendary museums in the world.
As you stroll a bit further and find yourself at the foot of the Eiffel Tower,
gaze up at this towering beauty and try to imagine the condemnation Monsieur Eiffel endured when his innovative iron lady was called ugly, a disgrace to Paris.
His tower, once considered a hideous eyesore,
is now celebrated the world over.
Clever minds have a way of reshaping the way we view our universe.
Poetic and stirring, we're fortunate to witness this kind of genius in our lifetime.
And the Metro! It's a world unto itself.
Who would have conceived of an underground planet
designed to whoosh us across town quickly and safely.
As you contemplate the Renaissance, the revolution, the war years,
civil unrest in '68 and all that has occurred since then, you might
think (and you'd be right), this is the most exciting place in the world.
Each charming nook and cranny of the city reveals the best of the best,
Paris past, Paris present and Paris future.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up."
Pablo Picasso, artist
Pundits may get snarky about the gray skies of Paris
but I can't think of a place on God's green planet that's more colorful.
And it's not just because I'm wearing rose-colored glasses.
Paris and Parisians are colored with charm and character.
You'll hear it in the roll of their r's, their too-funny swear words,
the thunder and lightening of their attitude and fashion.
Yes, Parisians wear a lot of black, yet somehow manage to stand out.
Their classic-yet-quirky taste makes everyone else
wonder "How do they do that?"
Everyday Parisians set the world on fire with their unique cool -- a scarf tied
strategically, their jeans and coiffure looking effortless yet shamelessly chic.
Yes, even in a city awash in gray skies and black sweaters,
Paris is distinctly colorful - a kaleidoscope of the beautiful and the unexpected.
After all, isn't this the city that invented "puttin' on the ritz"?
For my little traveling team, it's an open and shut case.
Caring, creative, colorful -- Paris is the one place we run
to each and every chance we get.
It's true, our vacations have become a crossword puzzle of cities and villages
wedged between the perfect architecture of P A R I S, but up or down,
left or right, this is one puzzle that's easy to solve.