After booking my trip to Paris to attend the 3 day senior portrait conference with the Twelfth Year that I was invited to, I noticed something rather amazing. I had four entire afternoons in Paris all to my lonesome, four afternoons in which I could explore the city to my hearts content (sans children!!!!) Um…wowzas, this was something way different from my usual afternoons of cooking meals, homeschooling my kiddos, and driving everyone to lessons so that I can quietly sit in the parking lot of CSMA editing photos on my laptop and get client orders filled. (which, by the way, is how this mama gets it ALL done.)
So what exactly does one do in Paris for four afternoons all by their lonesome? I did some searching through the air bnb experiences to see if anything caught my eye and looked exciting. Perhaps a guided tour of the Orsay Museum, or a yoga class under the Eiffel tower? There was the evening bike tour along the Seine river, or the wine and cheese tour of the Oldest wine cellars in Paris. None of them appealed to my inner Jamie, but one of them caught my eye. “Real Paris in the footsteps of Amelie” Amelie? Um. yeah, I was sold!
For those of you who don’t know what Amelie is, its “a fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making” I watched this movie during my graduating year from Ringling College of Art in my art of film class, and to date, its one of my favorite movies of all time. Not only because the movie starts out with Amelie with a camera in her hand photographing the clouds, (which was totally me as a teenager) but also because it celebrates and showcases the power of syncroncity and present moment awareness in a way that few films do. Here’s the trailer for those of you who have no idea what i’m talking about.
I booked the experience and was super excited to explore. It was my second day in Paris and though I had been there once before when I was 19, I had a very limited experience with the Paris metro system. Fortunately, the day before the workshop attendees and I visited a similar area as the Amelie tour, and I felt confident to navigate my way there. I met Lara under a clown statue about 100 feet away from Moulin Rouge. She greeted me with a smile and a binder in hand and we began our ascent towards Sacre Coeur. Along the way we checked out the first few locations which were very familiar to me from the movie. Le Maison Collignon in the 18th district was the grocery store where Amelie chats with Lucian and the boss who mocked him. Today the grocery store is called, Chez Ali and sells fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs.
Next up there was the now famous restaurant where Amelie worked. Cafe des 2 Moulins. Though there is no Georgette’s tobacco corner as was shown in the movie, you can still enjoy a creme brûlée and break the top of it with a teaspoon just like Amelie does in the movie.
I stopped to take a few selfies along the way with some really sweet wall art, and though it wasn’t the official photo booth from the movie, we found a similar photo booth nearby en route to Sacre Coeur where I was able to pop off a few frames and get silly.
We came in through the backside of Sacre Coeur, which translates to mean, Sacred Heart. Its a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And me oy my, there is an incredible view to be had from up there. You can see nearly the entirety of Paris from atop the 300 steps to get up there.
The view is also filled with a plethora of thousands of love locks chained to the fences. Each locket contains the initials of a couple who visited and serve as a symbol of lasting love. I had a profound feeling of awe imagining all of the lovers and families who ascended those stairs and intentionally left their locks chained to the fence. I wondered if all of them were still together, and I realized that even if they weren’t the intention of the love that they shared was still immortalized in the still present lock of love. That to me felt powerful, the idea that loving intention can outlast reality.
Lara and I shared some tea, enjoyed the view and then descended into the 10th and 11th districts of Canal Saint-Martin. After a short metro ride we arrived to the location where Amelie does some introspective stone skipping. I too share a love of skipping stones in those moments when life feels awkward and you just need to sit with the river and have a heart to heart chat. We decided it was the perfect location to take a memento polaroid of me.
We walked the streets in that district, passed the Gare du Nord (the metro station where Amelie goes to use the photo booth) until we found a lovely Patisserie where I had a special surprise waiting for me. Lara was dedicated to personalizing my experience to match my taste buds. I said, nothing chocolate, and nothing too sweet, and VOILA, a custom created pastry unlike anything I’ve ever had before. Strawberry gelatin topped with basil creme on an indescribable tart crust. Unreal, and it was gone after much savoring and raving.
We ended the tour on that sweet note. Basil bliss heaven, from a local Patisserie. My cup was running over with joyfulness and complete satisfaction. Its not everyday you get to walk in the footsteps of an actress in your favorite movie and experience a completely personalized private tour of the city from a local Parisian. Though my feet were sore, my heart was happy.
As I was leaving and en route back to my air bnb I came across this message on the sidewalk. “Listen to yourself” Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we can forget to hear our own voices. This was my beautiful reminder of the power of present moment awareness, of being tapped into the divine moment as its happening, and to walk through the world with open eyes and a listening heart.