Paris is for lovers. Unless you’re single. Like I was for the nearly two years I lived there. It was always a jab to my heart, like a deliberate and personally directed taunt, to see couples canoodling in dark café corners, pressed intimately together along the quais of the Seine, or just shopping at an outdoor market on a Sunday afternoon. Oh lovers, how very nice for you.
Then a year after I left Paris, I returned. With a man. And indeed it was a different experience. But as happy and, oui, sometimes smug, as I felt during that week of amour, I also realized that the old adage is true: the grass is always greener.
Every moment I basked in my City of Loooove romance was rudely followed by the memory of something I was missing from my solo days. It made me realize: no relationship is perfect.
Strolling arm in arm v. zipping about on a Velib
Not to state the obvious, but Paris is a city for flaneurs. With details to absorb, facades to admire, and gardens to step into, the streets are made for walking. And if you can do it by someone’s side, it’s all the more enchanting.
But speaking of enchanting, have you ever pedaled through the Marais on a Velib with no one but the midnight moon as your companion? Trust me, it’s pretty magical.
Staring into each other’s eyes v. watching the world go by
There’s no better feeling than being the apple of someone’s eye. You feel beautiful, smart and witty—like there’s no one else in the world who compares. Paris encourages these blatant displays of being fascinated with one another. Couples sit in cafes and restaurants all the time as if their attraction is the evening’s entertainment.
And, finally! I got to sit across the table from my man, and feel that “well, aren’t we special” spotlight on me. But it also made me realize how fun (and funny) it is to be on your own, observing all those silly couples fawning over each other.
Spontaneous ducking behind statues and shrubs for gross PDA v. spontaneous popping into vernissages, cute shops and wine bars just because
Of all the things I pined for while living a solo life in Paris, it was that moment of being reckless, giddy and throwing all caution (and dignity) to the wind for a public make-out session. That’s what Paris is there for, right?!
The flip side, I realized, is all those days and nights that I strolled, sauntered and absorbed Paris on my own, I could do anything I wanted on a whim. I didn’t have to take anyone else’s desires, feelings or preferences into account. Which led to more than one single girl’s memorable adventure.
Having someone to share half the calories v. eating anything and everything you want
It was a beautiful discovery while I was in Paris with my man that he was willing to split every pastry I ogled, every cheese plate I eyed, and every carafe of wine I couldn’t finish. I got to indulge in twice as many almond croissants, sample five instead of three cheeses, and order more than my modest pichet of wine.
Then again, I had to show some restraint. There were days in Paris during which all I ate for 24 hours were croissants and cheese… and there’s nothing terribly sexy about those aftereffects.