Have you ever felt right at home somewhere you’ve never been before? I have and it’s a really funny feeling. A positive one, though! But still, it’s kind of weird. You’re in a city/place that should feel strange and new and unfamiliar and still it feels welcoming and home and familiar. To me, that city is Paris. Some people say that Paris is not welcoming at all, it’s noisy and Parisians are rude and the language is incomprehensible and there are tourists everywhere. My experience is so different! I love the silly pigeons, the museums, the Nympheas by Monet, the quiet alleys just a couple of blocks away the hustle and bustle, the waiters who just melt when they realize you’re a tourist and your rusty French is not your mother tongue and love that you make the effort, the beautiful architecture that makes your neck hurt as you’re walking around staring at the balconies and the way the city just embraces you, if you let it!
Of course, now that I’ve been there three times, navigating around the city is easier, at least in the arrondissements closest to the city center. But it didn’t feel that hard the first time around. It felt strangely natural even then! Not to mention going to the grocery store or buying takeaway lunch etc.
Could it be because I’ve always loved the French language and been interested in France and Paris? Possibly so. Or is it just that there is that one particular place abroad for all of us? Maybe. Of course, it doesn’t matter, it’s just something I’ve often thought about while traveling. All I know that even though I always want to see new places and cities, I’m always willing to travel back to Paris. And every time it has something new on its sleeve, like the encounter on my latest trip there.
Where do you feel most at home while traveling? I’d love to hear your stories!