My first trip to Paris was back in the early 80’s. I was living in Hamburg Germany at the time, based in Europe modelling. My boyfriend, Denes (who I ended up marrying) was still living back in Sydney and we’d decided he should come over for a visit and we’d drive down to Paris together. It all sounded extremely adventurous and romantic, and I was so excited to be seeing him after many months away.
We rented some clapped out old Vauxhall from Frankfurt and drove through the night, speeding our way along the autobahn to Paris. I remember we arrived at dawn and the soft morning light over the city was magical, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the buildings looked.
As we drove closer to the ‘centre of universe’ spotting The Louvre in the distance, driving up the Champs Elysee, seeing The Eiffel Tower, we suddenly realised we were heading for the road to hell! Having never driven in Paris before we somehow found ourselves in the merry-go-round that is the Arc de Triomphe, and in peak hour! Both of us were so completely spun-out, going round in circles terrified, we immediately decided that life preservation was our main concern so handed the car back and explored Paris on foot!
Being slightly naïve, we’d booked no accommodation thinking we’d just wing it, neither of us realising that August is the high season and vacancy signs are scarce. On our measly savings we could only afford 1 & 2 star hotels and even then could only find availability one night at a time! When you’re young and wide eyed, it wasn’t the end of the world for us and we had plenty of laughs squeezing into single beds that felt more like sleeping in a banana hammock than on a sprung bed base. If you have to slum it in any city, Paris would be the one to choose.
Every morning we’d find the nearest patisserie to wherever we’d stayed the night before and fill our tummies with fresh croissants and coffee, ready for another big day of discovering the world’s most beautiful city.
Shopping wasn’t an option, these were the days before I ever owned a credit card but we soaked up the wonderful windows of luxury French goods, fantasising that maybe one day we could pass through those big glass doors.
We got to know our way round the underground Metro and loved the freedom of just jumping on a train, getting off, walking and trying to understand why this city held so much magic. I’ve returned to Paris many times, for work and play with each trip forming its own unique story but this first one will always sit as a great lasting memory.
Next year I will create a new Paris story when we set sail in August 2016, aboard my BalanceBDH river cruise down the Rhone on The Poetry II. Where I will have two of my most favourite peeps on board with me, Lyndall Mitchell and Nick Stock, taking care of our daily dose of wellness and our many daily doses of wine.
Oh and you can relax… unlike my first trip to Paris, I can assure you that on-board, we have extremely comfortable beds and beautiful linen!
Come join me and I’ll fill you in on a few more personal Parisian tales…