The Heart Rules the Head

The romance of Paris holds us all and I often have to wonder exactly what it is that grabs us by the heart strings and just won’t let go. There are other cities in the world with art, history, wonderful architecture and great food but they just won’t do.

Susan Ross Donohue, 09/01/2012

People have said to me (get this):

“You’re going to Paris AGAIN? Why? You’ve seen it.”

You’d be proud to know that I haven’t yet knocked out any teeth because there’s really no hope of explaining Paris to people who haven’t caught the French bug so I remain calm. I don’t try to explain that Paris is the same but different each visit. I don’t tell them that even if you live there, you’ll never completely know the city. I save my breath.

I have a theory that all Paris lovers always have the city on their minds. Maybe not consciously, but the city is always there lurking in the background. We can’t help ourselves because the images are so embedded in our brains that there’s no escape (not that we want to).

Some years, the call of Paris has been just too much to ignore and I’ve gone twice. The heart ruling the head? Absolutely. But I’ve never regretted an impulse trip. I arrive at CDG and I’m overwhelmed. I’ve come home. I’m safe and secure, and I’m where I should be.

Susan Ross Donohue, 09/01/2012

This is crazy behaviour but from what I read, thousands of people have the same feeling.

Do you ever dream of Paris? Let me tell you about a recurring nightmare I have (and this is the absolute truth).

I arrive in Paris, am enjoying my stay, but before I get to see the Champs Élysées, I have to go back home.

That’s it! I wake up in a cold sweat.

So, to avoid the nightmares, I recommend that you visit your very favourite spots before venturing into uncharted territories. For me, the ‘comfort places’ are:

  • The Champs Élysées. I have to poke my head into all my favourite shops just to see what’s what. I have to see the Arc de Triomphe and if I’m lucky, there will be some sort of event happening and there will be a huge French flag hanging down towards the…
  • Harry’s New York Bar on rue Daunou (our favourite bartender, M. Gilles always remembers us. How nice is that?!)
  • Rue de Seine (to check out the latest exhibitions).
  • The Eiffel (I don’t have to go up. I just have to see it sparkle).
  • Notre Dame (because I’m a huge Victor Hugo fan and I might see Quasimodo).
  • The bridges on the Seine. (Because they’re there!)
  • The Latin Quarter (just a little wander around to make sure it’s there).

After that, I’m good to go. I check out all the museum exhibitions to make some sort of plan. This is always a problem because the choice is amazing. Not only the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, but the smaller museums that I can’t resist. I begin to hyperventilate and my husband takes over the planning. He goes through Pariscope (you can’t visit Paris without picking up a copy of this little magazine), and I see that glazed look come over his face. He can’t decide either. There’s too much! We have to see it all! We can’t leave! We have to wire home for money! Who can we call? How many nights could we manage without any sleep? In short, we’re in heaven.

You see? Caught. Paris just won’t let go and that can only be good.

Image credits
1, 2 © Susan Ross Donohue

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Susan Ross Donohue

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  1. Femme Francophile Jan 31, 2012 at 5:30 PM - Reply

    This is amazing. You have totally captured my feelings but of course expressed them much more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you. (Will update my blog to link to this post.)

  2. Coco Rosenthal Jan 31, 2012 at 11:43 PM - Reply

    So true! I have to say you have explained the symptoms perfectly of those of us that suffer from the “Paris bug!” I am lucky enough to live here but the thought of leaving gives me anxiety. I do not know what I would do without having Paris daily. I know I will become just like you and make frequent visits 🙂

  3. Elisabeth Donato Feb 1, 2012 at 12:49 AM - Reply

    For the first time in my entire life (I am now 59, was born and raised in France, but have been living in the U.S. for 36+ years), I will be spending an entire month in Paris this June. I am beyond ecstatic!

    Wonderful piece on the “Paris bug,” Susan!

  4. Susan Ross Donohue Feb 1, 2012 at 11:59 AM - Reply

    Thanks so much for your comments!

    Femme Francophile – your new blog looks gorgeous. I’ll be watching and reading and dreaming…..

    Coco Marie- I’m green with envy knowing you live in Paris. You have no idea! Keep us up to date on absolutely everything SVP!

    and Elisabeth. A whole month in June! All I can say is WOW. Have a wonderful time (as I know you will). Paris in June….what could be better?

    As for me, back to Paris in the autumn if all goes as planned. Unless I can’t wait…..À bientôt

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