The 4th Decade Of Visiting Paris, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:02am CEST


The first time I came to Paris I was 18. Almost 19, given, but still 18.

On my first visit I walked the streets grinning and thrilled. But in those days I was afraid a lot. It was like walking on the side of a steep mountain – at any moment I might fall down an invisible slope. At 53 I’m not afraid any more. Not that I’m anything special – it comes with age. A benefit available to all.

On the other hand, fear has been replaced with a tendency to dither. I caught my thumb in the catch of my cheap umbrella, and found myself at one point, in the rain, looking at Google maps on my iPhone, the screen of the device blurred by both water and a little blood, thinking, OK, this cannot be right. Wondering how to hold the too-small map that I couldn’t read, and my umbrella, and my Monogram Vernis (because I can’t help but want to keep it dry), all at the same time. Aware that when I was 18 native quickness of reflex would have stood me in good stead. But yesterday the only thing I worried about was that I was dragging my best friend, also now 50, through some dodgy weather in search of a restaurant that might not be where I thought it was.

How funny that in those other days when really I was at less risk, I was more worried. All you young people out there here’s what I want to say. You have enormous skills you may not recognize. Sense of direction, good knees, accurate vision, good hearing. Literal and metaphoric. Don’t underestimate the basics. Your world is safer than you know. If old ladies can navigate the Marais in the rain, with bleeding thumbs, you can find your way through much worse. Enjoy. Courage, as they say.

Oh, and yes, Paris. It’s still here. It’s still its encoded, evocative, evident self. I’m only noticing my own history because I’m sitting down. Back out on the streets in a few minutes. The rain has stopped, and I’ve put my attack umbrella away.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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28 Comments

  • 05/14/10
    11:43 pm

    Reply

    Semi Expat said...

    Oh and I know you will have a wonderful and happy weekend Lisa… despite the rain and the dodgy umbrella! ENJOY….x

  • 05/15/10
    1:41 am

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    Reggie Darling said...

    Fab post m'dear. As a fellow post-50 traveler, I can say with authority that you, once again, nailed it. Reggie

  • 05/15/10
    3:02 am

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    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    Great post, LPC.

    Enjoy Paris.

    SSG xxx

  • 05/15/10
    3:02 am

    Reply

    valerie said...

    I hope that you have a fabulous time. You must have brought the sunshine with you, since today is the first day in a while that it has been nice here. If you have time, can I suggest Jacques Genin on rue Charlot? It's in the northern part of the Marais near République. The mango caramels are delicious, and so is the tea service. I am not affiliated with them : ) but I have a feeling you might like it.

  • 05/15/10
    3:57 am

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    Her Preppiness said...

    Paris is the best!! Don't forget to go to Laduree for pastries, Herve Chapelier for totes and the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs Elysee.

  • 05/15/10
    5:19 am

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    f8hasit said...

    Sounds like my last trip to Oslo when I KNEW there was a restaurant that I had loved that I now just couldn't find.

    Although I didn't have an attack umbrella.
    :-)

    Enjoy your trip!

  • 05/15/10
    5:46 am

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    Jill said...

    My Mother visits Paris several times a year…sometimes I worry that she may just decide to ditch Texas and stay in the city she loves.

  • 05/15/10
    7:01 am

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    Duchesse said...

    I see these American women, 50+ (usually in a small group) on the streets of Paris, with their rain protection on their bags, and their iPhone calculators, so they can convert prices easily, and then switch to the map so they won't get lost and I want to say: for god's sake, DO get lost, dear women. I mean: wander. Don't fret every detail. This sounds mean, I know, but if one is not willing to get lost in Paris, find a nice mall at home. This is not directed at you, L., your observation just stimulated it as I recalled those women.

  • 05/15/10
    7:51 am

    Reply

    hostess of the humble bungalow said...

    Paris! and spring rain….I can only imagine all those quaint storefronts and cafes…have a great time!

  • 05/15/10
    8:50 am

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    Joyce Lau said...

    Ah, so jealous. You were in Le Marais. I was touring factory areas in southern China, trying to figure out how to get the train to a pit of an industrial town called Dongguan. (I failed).

  • 05/15/10
    9:24 am

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    mrsbasement said...

    You are officially promoted to the mother category. well, not promoted, but, you know.

  • 05/15/10
    9:43 am

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    Class factotum said...

    I like the Rue Cler market. I also love the Cluny Museum. All those tapestries of baby Jesus smiling as he is being circumcised with a sharp stick? Had the weavers ever been to a circumcision?

  • 05/15/10
    1:34 pm

    Reply

    Faux Fuchsia said...

    Lucky you being in Paris-by far the best people watching anywhere. I never take my knees and hearing for granted! I was in Paris 2 years ago and stayed in the Marais which I loved. Don't foget the food court at Bon Marche x

  • 05/15/10
    1:38 pm

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    fourth said...

    Quelle poste ma chere LPC. Right there at the Marais, is Montmartre. Well worth it, if your knees can cope with climbing. Enjoy. The Fourth Canary

  • 05/15/10
    1:47 pm

    Reply

    Paula said...

    This is an remarkable posting!
    You just decelerated my evening-through the blogsphere by writing these lines. Now I feel like I don't want to continue my quest through blogspot and wordpress but just let yours sit.
    Actually it feels like returning from the movies of theater in the evening and not wanting to turn on the TV because the strong impression should last as long as possible.

    chapeau LPC!
    :-)

  • 05/15/10
    4:13 pm

    Reply

    EntertainingMom said...

    First things first. 53 is hardly old. I'm a decade behind you and don't ever want to hear the number 50 and old muttered in the same sentence. Ever. Understood?

    Secondly.I second the Duchesse's advice. There is nothing like getting lost in Paris! Toss the Google maps aside.

    Finally. Paris in the spring… in the rain… is perfection!

  • 05/15/10
    5:03 pm

    Reply

    Preppy 101 said...

    Great Post – Good advice for the younger set! I find that younger people today are not fearful of traveling to new places. In youth you feel you can do anything, and when you're young and cute, you're never embarrassed to ask for help ;-).
    {I have never had a good sense of direction – ever. So I can't blame that on age!} xoxo

  • 05/15/10
    6:57 pm

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    cardiactamponade said...

    Lovely post. I hope you, your bag and your best friend didn't get too wet!

  • 05/16/10
    6:05 am

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    LPC said...

    Thank you everyone. Paris is behind us. Traveling ahead of me. See you all soon.

  • 05/16/10
    12:35 pm

    Reply

    Nishant said...

    Great Post – Good advice for the younger set!
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  • 05/16/10
    4:08 pm

    Reply

    Nishant said...

    I hope that you have a fabulous time.
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  • 05/16/10
    7:01 pm

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    Paris! Even in the rain it sounds divine. And with your best friend…
    Okay, physically we may be more at risk, but I think we more than make up for it in the brains and experience department!
    But oh, those knees…

  • 05/16/10
    7:03 pm

    Reply

    Little Bow Prep said...

    Lovely post!

    I unfortunately do not have a good sense of direction as discovered on college visits :(

  • 05/16/10
    9:01 pm

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    ...All Things Refined said...

    Excellent post!

  • 05/17/10
    3:49 am

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    Buckeroomama said...

    A trip to somewhere in France is definitely in order. First we had my husband's French colleague in town the whole of last week and I got to reminisce about my visit to his neck of the woods (Antibes) and all things French. And now I read your post about Paris… *sigh*

  • 05/17/10
    4:20 am

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    A Refocused Life said...

    Minus a few minor problems, it all sounds so wonderful. ENJOY every second, but especially the perfect moments.

  • 05/17/10
    5:57 am

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    ADG said...

    Paris…My next view of Paris will be through the eyes of my little girl, LFG…next summer.

  • 05/20/10
    5:33 pm

    Reply

    The Mrs. said...

    Dying to get back there. I too was there at 19, and haven't been back. Good to know it's still there.

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