LD: Adventures Ensemble et Toute Seule

Rebecca Cao DiplomatThis post is part of Le Diplomate series, in which I will chronicle my travel joys and tribulations as an intern for the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. OECD in Paris.

This is great! I finally have a few hours to myself in my studio. I’ve had one of the most action-packed weeks of my life and voici the long overdue post about it all. I titled this post “Adventures Together and Alone” because my experience in Paris so far has been defined by the activities I tackle by myself and with others at my side. Since I’ve been here, it’s honestly been difficult to drag myself out of my quartier, the 16th arrondissement. Growing up as an only child with a single mother, I did plenty of things on my own — drawing, writing, reading. The one thing, however, that I’ve always hated doing solo is sightseeing.

What a shame, right? I’m in Paris with the most beautiful museums and parks and monuments surrounding me, but I am still not convinced that it’s worth it to go. Why? I’m a people person. When I see something amazing, I am not quite convinced it happened until I’m able to turn to a friend and unleash a rant that involves a story of this one time I was in Spain, this cool fact I learned in Art History, or this revolutionary idea for a bestselling novel that just came to me. Of course, this quite limits the scope of my adventures in life and I’m learning to appreciate exploring by myself.

Tonight, on my way home for work, I decided that it was as good a time as any to get myself lost. Although I did not lose my bearings entirely, there was a good five minutes where I had no idea where I was. Then, all of a sudden, I arrived at my apartment 20 minutes earlier than usual. Hello shortcut! Later, I met my friend Fabrice and we wandered around before finding a café. My French friends are teaching me a great deal about life. Apparently, you do not have to leave tip in restaurants, even when your waiter lies and tells you the service is pas compris (ahem, Jean-Michel!). Additionally, there is absolutely a difference between a 500-euro suit and a thousand-euro suit and someday I will be pressured into buying that thousand-euro suit (I disagree).

While the public biking system has been in place for a few years now, the city just instated a similar car rental system. For just 12 euro a month and about 3 euro for 20 minutes of driving, you can just hop in these electric cars and return them wherever there’s a drop-off location. Lastly, Fabrice brought my attention to an issue only the French would ponder — according to him, one is only supposed to buy roses in an uneven number. Upon further consideration, this theory is quite valid. If you give a girl two roses, is that one for her and one for you? Or worse, one for her and one for her friend? If you purchase a bundle of four, there’s an awkward hole in the middle. I guess a dozen is the exception?

Finally, I’d like to give my friend Jean-Michel a shout-out. I owe him my deepest gratitude for inviting me to the most French experience of my life, the Prix de Diane at the Chantilly racetrack. With the Château in the backdrop and hundreds of Frenchwomen in ridiculous hats (one lady had an actual live bird on her head), I really felt like a movie star on a set. The funniest part of the day was when Simon Baker pulled up in a sweet ride within feet of us and it took us — or, rather, me — five minutes to realize that Simon Baker was Simon Baker.

Prix de Diane

Now, I shall go do my dishes and perhaps end the night with another few chapters of Le Petit Prince. Tomorrow is another day, and I aspire to live it to the fullest, ensemble ou toute seule.

Have you ever traveled alone? Do you prefer to make new foreign friends or travel with old friends?




4 thoughts on “LD: Adventures Ensemble et Toute Seule

  1. I’m too much of a wuss to travel alone. I know a lot of people that do it, and swear it’s the only way to go. It forces you to meet people. But I don’t know.

  2. Dear Rebecca, I read this as if I were the author, reliving the moments and places you have been in my head. How lucky you are to have this opportunity to broaden your horizons as you have and will. I know exactly what you mean when you say you are the kind of people’s person. The enjoyment has no paralell when there’s someone special beside to share your emotions when doing sights. But as you get used to doing it alone is such a rich and romantic city, be comfortable in knowing that all of us friends are there with you, in spirit.
    Love and best wishes,

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