Ah, the City of Light.
For centuries, praise for Paris as an epicenter of culture, cuisine, architecture, and art has been well-documented in song, literature, and just about every other medium one can think of. The city’s glorious reputation is no doubt well-deserved. After all, it is home to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and myriad attractions that draw crowds from all over the globe.
As with any popular city, Paris garners as much criticism as it does accolades, especially from its own residents. Dreamily mention any of the things that make the region so special and you’re likely to get a few eye rolls from Parisians whose sense of ennui is palpable. Honestly, it is the same reaction you would elicit from a New Yorker if you waxed poetic about the Statue of Liberty (ahem, another cool gift from France); a bit of appreciation is lost if you live near or pass by celebrated monuments and attractions as part of your daily routine. Despite some people’s boredom with Paris, there are still adventures to be had. More specifically, there are Parisian adventures that every woman must experience in her lifetime. (Of course the city is for everyone, but this article is just for les femmes. Sorry, gents.)
1. ROLE PLAY
Whoa, slow down Little Miss Fifty Shades of Grey–I don’t mean that kind of role play (unless that’s your thing, of course). When traveling abroad, especially solo as I often do, it can be fun to pretend you’re someone else. Want to put on your fanciest duds à la Carrie Bradshaw and stroll down the Champs-Élysées and (window) shop at Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, or Montblanc and pretend you’re the ultimate It Girl? Do it! Or don some Audrey Hepburn-esque sunglasses and gloves and head to the Hôtel de Crillon to rub elbows with the wealthy during afternoon tea. No one will ever know if you’re a wealthy widow intent on spending your inheritance or a celebrity seeking a bit of privacy. Who cares? You’re in Paris, girl!
2. EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT
I am normally a calorie counter. I work out several times a week and follow a fairly strict diet when I’m at home, but a visit to Paris is cause to throw caution to the wind and indulge. Paris is considered the birthplace of haute cuisine with famed chefs like Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, and Alain Ducasse having eateries in and around the city. A typical French lunch consists of a starter (une entrée) such as a mixed salad, soup, some terrine or paté, a main course, (le plat principal), typically a choice of meat or fish, with potatoes, rice, pasta and/or vegetables, followed by a cheese course (often a selection of local fromages) and/or a dessert. Keep in mind, that’s just lunch! How the French stay so slim is a medical mystery–perhaps it’s all that smoking and bicycling. Speaking of which, the fact that Paris is truly a walkable city (or easily navigated by bicycle) serves as the perfect justification for cleaning your plate; there is no shortage of physical activity to burn off those rich meals.
3. PURCHASE LACY LINGERIE
Strolling shopping avenues and popping into diminutive boutiques for the sole purpose of purchasing lingerie is a Parisian pastime. French women have mastered the art of seduction in the form of dainty and delicate underpinnings; they know that a well put-together outfit begins with the proper foundation. Writer and ex-patriate Maggie Kim-Buñuel has a wonderful article on her blog about the best lingerie shops in Paris. Whether boosted by a corset or a barely-there bralette, your sex appeal will be multiplied infinitely. Bonus points if you purchase something you would never dare to wear at home. Live a little, globetrotter.
4. KISS A STRANGER, HAVE A FLING
OK, this is for the single dolls only. Undoubtedly, Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world and there are couples everywhere–canoodling in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower or snuggling on one of the city’s beautiful bridges. Sure it’s romantic and #relationshipgoals but it can be downright depressing to a single gal (trust me on this one). Paris is teeming with gorgeous people and presents the perfect venue to smooch a stranger. Now let me emphasize that you should prioritize your safety above all else and should never go anywhere or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a hot make-out session with a cutie. (I may or may not have tested this theory on my trés beau Uber driver. Shh, I’ll never tell.)
5. HIRE A PRO PHOTOGRAPHER
Hiring a professional photographer might be the best money you spend in Paris, seriously. It is especially helpful if you’re traveling solo (no selfie sticks for you) or have a friend with poor picture-taking skills that leave you looking like a deranged animal in photos. There are a number of exceptional photogs in the city that can work with you to capture exactly what you want whether it’s a silly beret-wearing, baguette-holding photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or a Vogue-worthy photoshoot in front of the Arc de Triomphe that would make Anna Wintour weep. Companies like Ever boast a slew of talented photographers who will take next-level vacation photos that will put your bestie’s Instagram feed to shame. (*I am not sponsored or being paid by Ever; I just think it is a great company.)
So, are you ready to book your flight? Bon courage!