Bateau-mouche, Paris

Yesterday: when I was young

The past week has been one of pain and sorrow for Paris. As the city comes to terms with the atrocities of Friday 13th, I have cast my mind back to happier times: my first ever trip to the French capital.

I was 16 and had just taken my O Levels. The long summer before my return to school as a sixth former lay ahead. I wanted a holiday and felt mature enough to travel without my parents.

An idea struck me. I had a pen friend in France, Odile, who had been to stay with us a couple of times. This felt like the perfect opportunity to see her again and to improve my language skills before starting my A Levels.

So I contacted her and she duly invited me to come and stay at her family’s home near Châlons-sur-Marne, as it was called at the time. (It has since been renamed Châlons-en-Champagne.) Her father was a wine grower, who was part of a co-operative that made champagne.

During my week, the family took me on a day out to Paris. I remember a trip along the Seine on a bateau-mouche and some confusion over the Thames – it took me ages to understand that the French call London’s river la Tamise.

“It was a day of touristic cliché perhaps, but I was 16 and it was my first visit to the French capital. I loved it”

Of course, our trip involved a visit to the Eiffel Tower too and we strolled along the Champs Élysées. It was a day of touristic cliché perhaps, but I was 16 and it was my first visit to the French capital.

I loved it then. I love it now. I guess I will always love it, no matter what.

This entry was published on Saturday, 21 November 2015 at 07:57. It’s filed under Places and people and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Yesterday: when I was young

  1. if it’s on your soul , it stays

  2. My first trip to Paris was at 19. I had just finished sailing with a group of ne’er do well friends around the Northern Mediterranean, had run out of money, and arrived by train from Barcelona penniless and hungry. I had thrown away my parents’ address in a fit of pique, remembering only the street name, but a taxi driver took pity on me and stopped at every hotel along that street and finally found them for me. I was there only one day before my trip via the Queen Elizabeth II back to the States but we took a taxi tour and saw Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the outside of the Louvre. That evening we ate at the Au Cochon d’Or and I still have the little gold pig charm they gave me. After dinner we saw the Folies Bergère. Just that taste of Paris made me a lifelong visitor.

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