I was on my cell phone, talking to a young man at AT&T to sign up for an international data plan. When I told him that I would be traveling to Paris he said “Oh, that’s every girl’s dream!”
Yes, I admit it. I am a cliche. Women — middle-aged women in particular — love to escape to Paris. Remember Carmella from the Sopranos? Here’s her reaction to Paris.
Of course, it’s not just women who love Paris. Case in point: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. But for many of American women, Paris and France hold a special allure.
I think one reason is that Paris is a 24/7 experience of sensual pleasure. American women have spent a lifetime being judged for our attractiveness. We dress, diet, exercise, groom with an eye on the mirror and a self-conscious sense of how others perceive us. But how often do we allow ourselves to turn our sights away from the impact we make on the outside world and let the outside world afford us delight?
For years middle-aged women have focused on the needs of others. We are pragmatic and disciplined. And then we arrive in Paris. Everywhere it is a feast of sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. The city surrounds us with beauty, harmony, history, artistry, and elegance. The food, the wines, the museums, the bridges, the river, the light, the street fashion, the architecture, the fragrances, the style, and the heightened aesthetic of living.
Paris delights us. It offers us beauty and asks nothing from us in return. The people might judge us, but Paris does not. It asks us to be free, to take delight in all its pleasures — directly, individually, and solely for ourselves.