May 19, 2022

Jet Lagged, Sick, and Alone in the City of Light

Paris. Have you been? What comes to mind when you think about Paris? For me, it’s wine, croissants, clothing, and cafes. It is now, anyway. I hated Paris the first time I went. I was 20 years old, American, and dumb as rocks when it came to anything international. No one in my family had traveled internationally so I was clueless. I hopped off the train from London and booked a hotel room in the Paris train or subway station - I don’t remember exactly where but I remember there was a lady at a kiosk and I booked a hotel room. The room was disgusting and reeked of smoke. It may have been in Montmartre. I remember being by the Moulin Rouge, at least I think I do. I called my dad to fly me home. Luckily he didn’t answer on that fateful day. And there were no cell phones to call back. Nope, I was stuck in Paris. But that’s not what this is about. This is about my fatal attraction to this city. And trip number 3 for me. So here goes.

My "B&B" Entrance

Where in the World Are You, Red?

If you didn’t read my tragedy on trying to get to Paris, go ahead and do that to set the stage. Part deux begins when I land. It’s a complete comedy of errors the whole way. I loved every second of it. My overnight flight is a nightmare. I get virtually no sleep, as I had intended, and land, disoriented and sleep-deprived. I get in a cab or Uber…no idea which…and head to my “bed and breakfast.” The guy leaves me on some random corner of a one-way street where it’s flooded with people. Me and my two suitcases are traveling up and down the street, dodging the scaffolding blocking the tiny ass sidewalk in one section, and the cars whizzing by on the tiny ass street, trying to find this infernal building and address. I have no idea how to work an international phone situation, and realize I simply dial the foreign number to the host. I send her a pin drop to where I am, and replies “You’re in the park?” No, broad, I am on the street with my two suitcases waiting for you. Come and find me - I stick out like a sore American thumb!

My Room in the "B&B"

They Forgot the “Air” in B&B

My host finds me and graciously (yet reluctantly, I suspect) helps me roll one of my bags. She scolds me for not being dropped off at the proper address. I knew she would be trouble from the start. We get to the apartment, which was a total shock to me (as it was not a true bed and breakfast), and I set my things down. I thought I was staying in a bed and breakfast. I was staying in this woman’s apartment. It was an AirBnB but worse. She lived there, too, and served breakfast out of her personal dining room. At first, the saving grace was the cat named Harry, but that asshole didn’t even warm up to me during my visit. I may or may not come back to Harry in this piece. She encouraged me to put my things down and join her and her spouse for a coffee. Fine. I was hoping to meet up with a Twitter friend, but what the hell? I’ll get to know my new roomies first. After my obligatory visit with these people, I retreat to my room. Finally I am alone and able to relax. I shower, message my Twitter friend, and she informs me that my window of opportunity has passed. She had plans that night. Not a problem. I am off to explore Paris with just my camera as my companion.

It’s Hard to Beat Le Marais

The first afternoon and night are fantastic. Paris is an overall safe-feeling city, and I couldn’t get enough of walking the streets and soaking up the sights. I walked and walked, and familiarized myself with my new neighborhood, Le Marais. I ate at one of the restaurants recommended by my hosts, and it was divine, although much heavier than I would ever eat at home. But hey, I was walking it off. I could eat whatever I wanted. Or so I thought.

Saint Sulpice

What a Brilliant First Day! Does It Only Go Down from Here?

My first morning I was in gay Paris came and went like a fart. I slept until approximately noon, and when I woke up I felt the initial stress from my hosts. They had set out my croissant and fruit and had expected me at a particular time. I mention this because it only gets better from here, and please do note my sarcasm. My hosts became neurotic about breakfast and the exact time they thought I should be at their table. I’ll definitely mention this later. For now, let’s move on. I made my obligatory small talk with them during my “breakfast” and moved on to shower and whatnot. I wanted to go explore again. It was a Sunday, so I attended a mass at Saint Sulpice, where I was absolutely delighted. The organ music moved my soul and the priest, while I understood exactly nothing, was one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever watched speak. I loved it. I decided to take my happy ass over to a restaurant recommended by my favorite Parisian influencer, The Everyday Parisian, but it was booked solid. As I banged on the door in disbelief that it was locked, a waiter came out to explain there was no room for 1 at that time. Zut!

My Delicious Looking Meal at Robert et Louise 

Second Choice, Welp

I had options. I came prepared. My other friend had recommended a place nearby where I snagged a barstool, and I ordered wine. Loads of wine. I checked the menu and went blanche when I saw that there was virtually nothing on the menu but meat. Did I mention I am more vegetarian/pescatarian? I found crevette (shrimp) on the menu and took my chances. They came out looking divine. I had loads of bread, a salad, wine, potatoes, and crevettes. The bartender actually spoke to me after I was mostly done with my meal, which I mention because it may be the only time someone did speak to me the entire time I was in Paris while on my own. (And I thought the French were supposed to have B.O.! Apparently it was me!) Back to my meal. I had so much dinner, but I most certainly had room for a brownie the size of my head, a la mode, of course. I ate most of it, waddled my way back to my shared space, and went to bed. I was fat and happy. My body had other plans for me that night.

Sitting in the Jardin des Tuileries Not Letting Food Poisoning Deter Me


At some point in the middle of the night, I found myself waking up to a massive stomach ache. I laid there for a few moments, and when the sensation to expel my dinner did not subside, I made my way down the hall to the (very clean) toilet, and gave my toilet bowl a run for its money. That scene went on 3 more times during the night, each time I got a snooze in between and drank water so as to not dehydrate and land myself in a French hospital. My mental state was that of shock, and the next day I moseyed into my roommates’ apartment and told them about my ailment. They were nonplussed, yet forbid me from drinking coffee or eating my coveted croissant. Damn these madames! I felt under personal attack but drank my gross tea and ate yogurt with some fruit nonetheless. I had no fight in me and did as I was told. I was finally dismissed and went back to my room and stayed there most of the day. There was a 0% chance I was going to waste 100% of the day in bed, wallowing in my food poisoning, so I showered, put on my peppiest outfit, and set about the streets.

Best Photo Captures by Moi the Whole Trip

Am I Invisible? Do I Stink?

The next couple of days were filled with introspection and solitude. I did a boatload of walking and photographing things. I took my time, I barely ate, and I realized during that time how absolutely uninterested Parisians were in me. When I tell you I was alone in a city of millions, I am not joking. My alone time was beautiful and lovely, but at a meal I would’ve loved to have a conversation. Or when I was sitting in the wine shop with three dudes beside me, not one could throw a gal a bone? Being from a city where people say hello at every chance they get, I was a bit discombobulated. I couldn’t understand what the disinterest was all about. It still bugs me, to be honest. All I could think was “you’re missing out on a really quirky person, here!” But what do I know about Parisians’ taste?

We Don’t Let People Like You into Our Bar

What I enjoyed the most was my time spent walking. I went to exactly zero museums, because the city of Paris itself is a museum. Fun story about walking: while walking by the Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries, I happened upon Le Meurice. I wanted to have a cocktail at the primo hotel that Oliver Gee has mentioned more than once on his podcast, the Earful Tower (of which I am a listener and a patreon!). As I confidently walked up and asked for a place at the bar, I was denied. Told there was no space. I refused to give up there and asked to use the restroom and was granted permission. As I walked by the bar and saw it nearly empty, I decided I would NOT be back to that place! But I did use their opulent facilities. Ya win some and ya lose some. I was not completely deterred. This type of nonsense seemed to be par for the course in this lovely city.

Notre Dame by Night

Alone No More!

Life got a lot better when my husband arrived on my fourth day by myself, and I felt like I finally had a pal. It’s very possible I could’ve been happy if my archnemesis arrived, just for speaking English alone, but I jest. I would’ve pushed her in the Seine. Having Jeff around eased a lot of my self-consciousness I didn’t even know I was feeling. I realized on that solo jaunt that I have a lot of work to do with myself on solo travel and comfort. But I also realized that my resilience to shitty and annoying things happening to me is pretty high. I don’t go down easily, and I have gratitude for my travels no matter what. This trip was a challenge, I tell ya. It was not my easiest by any stretch, but I loved the hell out of it. I’m ready for more solo travel, but I’ll also be first telling you about the part where Jeff gets to Paris with me. This trip had so many funnies and stories. I love that I can share them with you.
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