Let’s travel back a couple of months. We’re in March 2019, and I’m on my way to Paris for a craft fair, hoping to spot new trends in the stationery world. What I really hope in secret, is that this trip will add a new piece to the difficult puzzle that is my creative self. Right now, I’m at crossroads between the “I’ve been doing what I thought I should do” and the “I know there is more to it but I can’t seem to figure it out”.
I thought I knew my creative self, and this gave me a sort of self-confidence that I believed to be rock solid, but the reality is that over the past couple of years it quietly broke into invisible pieces that I’ve lost on the other side of the road. Pieces of myself. And I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to pick those pieces up, or whether I’m meant to build new ones from scratch. So here I am, on a rainy Thursday morning, aboard a TGV bound for Paris, with “The War of Art” in my hands, a broken heart, and a little bit of hope.
I like that bigger places always have something to offer for absolutely everyone, and I always leave them with so many new photos on my phone and lots of inspiration.
When I find myself in a big city, I like to go reverse, against the flow. Is that too rebellious? Mmh I don’t think so. I find it stressful, this rush, this busyness of life, this “Sorry I’ve got to run to my next meeting”. No thanks. Because if I do that (and I did that when I lived in London) then I miss the important details that make cities so wonderful.
Whether it’s the softly ironic remark you’ll hear one painter shout to another in Montmartre, or quietly savouring a chocolatine (the girl in the bakery couldn’t help but correct me with a “pain au chocolat?”) under the morning sun on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur, or stopping 5 minutes to admire those old French typefaces on independent shop fronts, I like to turn touristic activities into almost mindful wanders.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather walk than take the metro, or if necessary I’ll take the bus for longer journeys, so at least I can observe the urban scenery and get lost in it for a while. Sometimes I have my camera with me, sometimes it feels more like a burden and I’d rather let my senses turn the moment into a much livelier memory later, even if that means locking it in my head only.
With life passing, I start to appreciate the quality of my memories. They aren’t just images as you know. Add the smells, the sounds, but mostly, the feelings they’re undeniably associated with. If I felt stressed or anxious but the view was perfect, the memory will still turn into a sad one anyway, bringing up this bitter undesired feeling when it comes back in my mind. Mmpff. But, if during that moment, I felt present, at peace, then the memory will magically turn into a blissful one. I think I now owe it to myself to turn as many moments as possible into joyful memories. That’s absolutely not the end goal, but definitely a motivation factor.
So here’s is my way to spend 3 days in Paris: first day, TGV siesta for almost 4 hours, and walk around. Second day, attend a creative event of some sort. Third day, eat all the delicious food you can’t find anywhere else, and go home before you eat some more.
When I arrived, I checked into my Air Bnb. I love to see how people arrange and decorate their home. What flea finds they bring back, what books are on display, and the colour of their furniture. I felt so at home in this one. I guess I love this mostly because I’ve always had an interest for home decor. I also like that I get to have my own space if I want to (introverts raise your hand). So yes, I like those super tiny apartments, real homes, on the top of a 6 floor building that may or may not have a lift. Luckily this flat is on the 7th floor, and there’s also a tiny little lift. Pfew.
This trip is a little different somehow. I’ve been having all sorts of back pain for a few weeks, so I have to limit myself in terms of wandering endlessly. And well, since it’s Springtime, what could possibly be better than enjoying the view of a famous building that has been standing there for years, and to connect it with thousands of unique tiny little blooms that will only remain there for a couple of days?
So here I am, forgetting about the streets of Montmartre, and focusing only on this beautiful, impressive building showing off its powder pink outfit in this early March day.
I starred at this view for so long. For a moment, I even became possessive of it. I wanted it just for myself, I didn’t like to see other people taking their camera off their bags to capture this wonderful view too. I’m not proud of that feeling, but it was there. Hey you, go away, I was here first. I started competing with them in secret, finding another tree, pretending maybe no one before actually stood there and took a shot of Miss Eiffel Tower this way. I guess it was all just a little game. But reality called me away, the wind was so cold and it was about to rain.
The creative event was fine, the workshop I attended was awesome. I’ll tell you more about this in another post, because this post is not supposed to turn into an ebook.
If you like Vietnamese food, there is one place I love, near Montmartre, and what I love the most about it, is that it’s not registered on Google Maps. No, I don’t eat snails when I go to Paris. It was like an Asian treasure hunt, it took me a while to find it again. I discovered it in November 2017 and I had to blindly find my way back there. I did swear “why the heck did I not add this location into my starred places?” errrh. But hey, that bo-bun was really worth it. If you want to know, I can share the place but you’ll have to get in touch with me for that. (discreetly checks her phone to verify she did add this location into her starred places this time.)
Anyway, I’m sharing a few snaps and a journal spread I made out of these few days. I guess if I had to sum it up, this trip was learning to: doing less, but better, finding the slow in the fast, the detail in the mass, the old within the new, the ephemeral near the forever. Overall, a deeper sense of quiet observation. I really appreciated to be able to be there during that time of the year. Next, Japan and all the cherry trees. Oh yeah. Being in a city is so great when you get to discover it again and again through Nature’s seasonal outfits.
Day 3, I’m back on this super fast TGV. My heart is still broken. My bag of hope got fuller though, as I get to reflect on these past days during my journey home. I had the chance to appreciate the incredible work of some amazing artists. When other people shine by doing what they love, they immediately share a piece of that sun with you too.
Until next time.