Parisian for a Month

Sep 4, 2014 by

“You can see Paris in a week.”

– Almost everyone

 

          “You have to be careful,” my friend cautioned as she approached my desk yesterday afternoon.

          I looked up in confusion, wondering what she was talking about.

          “Someone was just denied boarding at Pearson. The airline wouldn’t let him leave the country because he was trying to fly out one way,” she said. “They basically told him, ‘You’re a Canadian. You’re not leaving this country unless you can prove you’re coming back,’” she paraphrased the conversation that she suspected took place at the airport. “You need to prove you’re coming back,” she warned me.

          My eyes widened. (Thank God I had told her about my one-way to Paris immediately after booking. She is the reason I found out that I can’t enter Europe with a one-way ticket and I was able to cancel it in time to get a full refund.)

          After reviewing my options, she suggested I call the airline I decide to go with to confirm that I won’t have any issues boarding.

          “I will,” I assured. “You just scared the shit out of me – in a good way.”

 

***

 

          I’m basically in Paris. I don’t even have my flight booked yet, but my head is so there! I’m so checked out of work that I might as well be out of office (six workdays left!), I’m Googling images of “Paris food” (by the way, Google images of “Paris food”), and I’m mentally making plans with friends I haven’t made yet. I’m in Euro mode, and my biggest problem in Euro mode is determining a flight itinerary that doesn’t break any immigration laws. (I know, I know, my life is the coolest!) I really wanted to fly away with no itinerary, but Europe and apparently Canada (see above) say no, so I have to have a loose plan.

          I’ve decided on 82 days in the Schengen zone, by which I mean, European law decided for me. (As a Canadian visitor of France, I could apply for a Long Stay or Type D visa. Although it would be specifically for France, once a Type D visa holder enters the Schengen zone through France, he or she is free to travel the other 25 countries at will until the visa expires. Because I don’t expect my money to last much longer than 82 days anyway, for me, it’s not worth the hassle of applying.) How I allocate those days is TBD. Whether or not I visit countries outside of the zone to stretch my time on the other side of the ocean is TBD. Where I go from Paris is TBD. Pretty much everything about this trip is TBD, except the fact that I’m going to Paris – and I’m going to Paris for at least a month. Friends of mine that have already been insist that I can see Paris in less than a week, but that’s not my travel style. I have no need to rush in and out of a city I’ve been dreaming of visiting. I don’t want to just see Paris; I want to live Paris. I’m not going for the sights; I’m going for the culture. I’m not going to pass through with a checklist that ends up looking like this:

 
          Eiffel Tower: Check

          Champs-Élysées: Check

          Notre Dame: Check

          The Louvre: Check

          Parisian lifestyle: ?

 
          I like to get to know a city. Truth be told, I’ve yet to visit any one city outside of the GTA for longer than the two consecutive weeks I spent in Rome in 2012, but that’s longer than many tourists of Europe spend in a single spot. I remember the man working the nearby gelateria being shocked that I was still there after three days. Now that I’ve made the time to travel longer, I’m going to take my time. I want to get my bearings, find my favourite spots, and make friends. I’m not going to Europe to quickly cross a bunch of countries off my to-travel list. I have my entire life to do that. I’m going to Europe to experience a different way of living.

 
Previous: “I Wish I Could Do That” Next: The Missing Shoestring
 

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