**The following is a guest post from Emily Buchanan and contains a sponsored link.**
You know those filmic moments during the first throws of a new love affair when everything is sepia-tinged and reality feels like a dim and distant memory? I love moments like those. Particularly when I’m in Paris. Sure, this sounds like the opening of a trashy romance novel, but it isn’t, it’s true.
In the autumn of 2002 I met a little-known soap actor. I’d just completed my A-levels and everything felt possible. We swapped glances in Soho, London, in a fast food restaurant and instantly, everything changed. Almost overnight, we started living in each-others pockets and it was then that we decided to go somewhere that would reflect the hedonism of our affair. We were young, fearless and desperately seeking adventure. And where does one go when they are young, fearless and desperately seeking adventure? Paris, naturally. So with a bit of money in our pockets and a thirst for romance in a foreign city, we headed off on a city break, having only known each other for 3 months.
We took a ferry from Dover to Calais. Titanic was still massive in the early noughties and we re-enacted the iconic ‘I’m Flying Jack!’ scene. It was so corny but there was something undeniably romantic about ferry travel that day. Perhaps it was the White Cliffs of Dover receding behind us or the clarity of mind that sea faring provides. Who knows, but I don’t think we’d have felt quite as remarkable inside the stuffy cabin of a plane.
As soon as our feet met France, we hired a car and shared the drive across the country. It should have taken just over three hours. It took six. It was during these six traffic-jammed hours that we encountered The First Row. The First Row was furious and red-faced and completely pointless. I got out of the car at the side of the road and dramatically slammed the door. Then, of course, the traffic started moving. I had to run alongside as he stretched across the seat to let me in. He almost careered into a sluggish coach packed with tourists, all of whom watched in dismay as I struggled to climb in. When I was finally back in my seat, we laughed, the coach-load of people applauded and the atmosphere lifted. By the time we past the sign for Paris, everything was back to normal. Oh the fickle buoyancy of young love in the city.
We stayed in a weary three-star hotel in St-Placide. I have little memory of it. We hadn’t come to wile our hours away in a hotel, we’d come to explore and, due to commitments back home, we only had three days. We hit up the usual hot-spots: Louvre, Arc du Triomphe, Musee d’Orsay, Sainte Chapelle. As beautiful as these places were, they didn’t sate my desire for the cinematic. That all changed when we reached the Pere Lachaise cemetery. It was like something out of a gothic horror novel. We both liked to think we were incredibly avant-garde and at one with the dead so nothing pleased us more than brooding around memorial sculptures whilst discussing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey. Here, Hollywood actresses enjoyed their final resting place alongside confessional poets and big name libertines. From humble tombs to full-scale works of art, we spent half-a-day meandering amongst the dead and stealing kisses over gravestones. We saluted Sarah Bernhardt and Jim Morrison and shared the love at Oscar Wilde’s eternal sleeping spot. Sadly, I hear you can’t do that anymore due to over-kissed stone erosion. I like to think we were the straw the broke the camel’s back.
What I loved most about Paris, by far, were the Parisians. I don’t care what anyone else says about the French, they are neither rude nor inhospitable to young blonde girls with a faltering understanding of the French language. We had a slap-up meal at a small bistro by the Gare du Nord, where a team of equally-young and enthusiastic waiters served us with the best cheese and wine I’ve ever tasted. They seemed especially enchanted with the infatuated English couple in the heart of Paris, and took special care to embellish our experience, even at the expense of other customers. I was waiting for an accordionist to appear around the corner and serenade us like in the Lady and the Tramp, but alas, that was the only disappointment I suffered.
Later that night, we immersed ourselves in the city of lights. Some say that Paris has been over-publicised and demystified but I disagree. No one can fully describe the energy of the place or the way its infectious atmosphere floods the veins. At the time, my every move felt prolific. Although, it could be argued, I may have been wearing rose-tinted glasses.
I hasten to add, the little-known soap actor and I cooled off our partnership after he became really rather well-known and forgot all about me. But alas, I’ll cherish my brief Parisian fling as if it were gold dust.