All the best things in life are clichés.
Paris, is a cliché.
I’ve fought consciously throughout my adult life not to fall for it, or at the very least, say it out loud, fearing I’ll sound like a girl wanting to model or a guy in a sports car. It oozes unoriginality. But in the end, excuse mine if you will, as we sat predictably at an open cafe at 6:30 am, watching this city in beige and pastel grey slowly waking up in a wash of golden summer lights, acutely aware of its both corny and extraordinary allure. Paris, I succumbed, is Paris for a reason.
But I knew that four years ago, when I visited Paris for the time time. This time, I wanted more. And I didn’t mean a private jet from somewhere like jettly.com to take me there (although a girl can dream, right?!).
I wanted more not from Paris, but from the country that it has instilled great bewilderment for inside my mind. If that was Paris, then what is France? An embarrassingly stupid question no doubt, for a pre-middle age woman to ask but frankly, I’m too old to pretend that I’m better. If I were destined with death-by-sugar then fuck it, bring out the ice cream-truck, and I want her every single available flavors including the weird ones against my best judgement. Not just to see her polished beauty but – almost out of both cynicism and total respect – I wanted to slowly cruise through her central veins, starting from Paris, then Burgundy, Lyon, Luberon, Marseille, then along her riviera that ends in Nice. What would I find on a road trip in France? Perhaps a side of her that looks no different than places just off of the New Jersey turnpike (and yes there are). Or perhaps more beautiful cliches? I will be able to travel through those perfectly imperfect ancient villages and chateaus freckling along her cheeks. Would I be able to have one? To find it unmistakably amidst all, to go back to it again and again? My favorite freckle of hers?
This isn’t the first road trip I’ve been on. I went on a big road trip in the US when I had just passed my driving test. I was very new to driving, I had only just learned how to buy car insurance, and I thought going on a huge road trip would be an amazing idea! Needless to say, it didn’t go entirely to plan, but I still had lots of fun. I remember one evening I pulled in for some food and ended up having a couple of glasses of wine. I didn’t even think that I was driving, which shows how knew I was to it! I had to use a blood alcohol concentration calculator and discovered I was over the limit. Thankfully there were some rooms at the place I stopped, so I just ended up staying the night there. It saved me a night in the car!