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My first trip to Paris was in the ’70s. Back then Paris was synonymous with a glamour that I had only read about.  It was Brigitte Bardot. It was Leslie Caron in Gigi and Audrey Hepburn in Charade.

It was the Madeline book series and Eloise in Paris.  It was Can-can girls and the Moulin Rouge. It was Chanel No 5 perfume and the Chanel suit. It was an elegant strand of pearls, a Hermes scarf,

and a beret jauntily worn to the side. And it was the French poodle, and Parisian accordion street music to which my mother seemed to be addicted.


Travelling to Paris and France in those days for the average person was still ultra-exotic. Movie stars and other celebrities enjoyed these far-off places and the baby boomers that were coming of age

like myself were venturing forth around the world while it was still cheap.


From that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the air I knew I was hooked.  I saw more of the famous sites in just a few days than I would ever see again on many subsequent trips. I squeezed into

the mob spying tiny Mona Lisa at Le Louvre. I climbed to the top of Notre Dame to hear people talking about someone who sadly had chosen it as the place to jump from this world to the next. I

walked in awe through the Luxembourg gardens, the ornate rooms and expansive gardens in Versailles, and at the Musée Rodin, I stretched up to run my hand over the smooth bronze foot of “The

Thinker” when no one was looking. Everything was exquisite, ordered with a defining symmetry, and with not even the tiniest detail left to chance.



The Thinker, Rodin Museum, Paris

The Thinker, Rodin Museum, Paris/First Trip to Paris


This was the Paris in the days when Parisians really could be the most terrible snobs, the waiters were horribly rude, and literally, everyone smoked, the air pungent with the acrid scent of Gauloises

and Gitanes cigarettes. It was a feast for this young woman from conservative unsophisticated Toronto and I was gorging on it.


I shared a room with a friend on the third floor in a very thrifty hotel on the busy Blvd St Michel with no elevator (naturally). It was sparse but had its own bathroom which was surprising. Every

morning there was a quiet knock at the door, and outside a tray of fresh coffee, and half a baguette each with pads of fresh salted butter and raspberry jam.  I was in heaven.


One afternoon my friend and I returned earlier than expected back to our hotel and heard some unusual sounds that made us think we had approached the wrong room. But the keys fit and on

opening the door, we found two women involved in the most curious manner. I am not sure it even registered to me what was happening, but our confused looks did little to deter the ladies who

simply methodically put their clothes back on, while we quickly shut the door and ran down to the hotel lobby.


My friend went into a lengthy tirade using French words that I have never even heard of before. The hotelier looked non-plussed and just gave us a classic French shrug. He figured that we would not

be back so soon and had sublet our room for a little afternoon delight.


We insisted on another room, which unfortunately was on yet another floor even higher up with only a bathroom down the hall. Quickly packing up our first room, my friend was seething with

indignation, but all I could think of was, ah Paris, how naive am I?  And how will you surprise me next?


What is your first defining memory of Paris?

I would love to hear from you! Please leave your COMMENTs below!



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With my favourite waiter at Café Les Deux Magots/Woman of A Certain Age in Paris



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  1. Gretchen Greene O'Brien on January 17, 2021 at 8:32 am

    Flying into Paris for the first time, and spying the iconic Eiffel Tower was pure MAGIC! All the books & pictures I’d seen didn’t compare with the actual thing! Finding my way to the quaint pensionne on the Left Bank; discovering charming cafes; visiting the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral – it was all so ENCHANTING!!!

    • Diana Bishop on January 17, 2021 at 1:28 pm

      Yes, you are so right. Paris did exceed all my expectations. Enchanting is the word for it. Diana

  2. Tamara Thompson on January 17, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Diana, I LOVE the new look of your blog, very beautiful new image and backdrop colour, way to go! I was born in the 70s and truly remember the feeling of my parents, also baby boomers, who explored french culture in magazines and the essence of Paris was abounding, maybe by the time I was growing up, more and more people ventured to Paris, we didn’t as a family but the culture was real even in Ontario, even for a year old in the 80s. I do of course remember Chanal No. 5 commercials, thinking to myself, ONE DAY…perhaps..ONE DAY I too will purchase this luxury bottle of perfume. And I remember all of the movies my mom and I would watch together on Sunday afternoons.
    I am totally relishing in your blog.

    *Backstory this past year 2020- I had taken up online dance fitness, and was really gung ho about my self care practices in lockdown, as many women (especially women) where I noticed with you know…covid-19. I injured my knee, and it is on the mend, though I had to QUIT MY ONE self-care coping skill, completely, after losing extra weight, gaining in strength and mobility I WAS BUMMED…let alone my instructor was a highschool friend of mine and the connection with the ladies was just what the self-help doctor ordered. NOW….back to your beautiful blog.

    Well, my new SELF CARE regime will now include your blog posts!!! And I am totally intrigued! 🙂 It looks like there are MANY articles about Paris that I can too, be mobile again, at least in dreamy thought, so I do think your blog as it takes me away to a special place, will be my new installment of self-care. SO thank you for writing such an electric blog, almost like I am visiting some far off fanciful place. OH, I understand the bathroom dilemma you seemed to have in Paris on your first trip too.

    We moved to a location where we live with ONLY showers, so standing room only. MY OTHER self-care coping skill prior to moving here was big long bubble baths. Just another cool reason to add your blog to my daily pampering and nurturing Thy Self practices. GOD knows us women TRULY need to nurture ourselves. Onward to Paris, is what I always say….lolll..WELL no I don’t usually say that ever, lol…BUT now it is my mantra, I may not lose weight, but my poor overworked brain could also use a rest. Thank you for sharing your space in Paris, so needed while were unable to travel and now in Ontario, can get a ticket for being outdoors.

    • Diana Bishop on January 17, 2021 at 1:28 pm

      Tamara, It has been too long. and I am delighted to hear that you are doing well. Yes, self-care is what it is all about during this pandemic. But i am so honoured that I am your list of self-care strategies. Welcome back and thank you so much, Diana

  3. Karen on January 17, 2021 at 11:01 am

    My First trip to Paris in the late 70s allowed me the opportunity to pick up a few extra coins along the way! We enjoyed a tour of the Louvre, mona Lisa is much smaller than I expected, my boyfriend And I went to a lovely Restaurant for lunch I went off to use the ladies room and was standing in line when I realized it was “the” room not just for ladies. Well waiting my turn I had the choice of viewing the gentleman at the urinal or watching him in the mirror.. As a 20 something naïve Canadian I was pretty embarrassed. The gentleman very nonchalantly zipped his pants and passed me a tip I think assuming I was the washroom attendant!

    I remember how impressed I was with how beautifully dressed everyone was in Paris including the meter maids Pierre Cardin outfits in a pretty shade of blue with matching hats.

    • Diana Bishop on January 17, 2021 at 1:26 pm

      Oh My God, Karen that is priceless. I do also remember being totally embarrassed when I realized that the men’s and women’s washrooms were communal and the urinal is outside the “canbinets.” It still embarrasses me but I just look like I don’t care and carry on. But a tip … that is hilarious. Great comment. Thanks for sharing. Diana

  4. Margaret Ann Gendreau on January 18, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Isn’t it something, my first memory landing in Calais after taking the ferry from Dover is also the shared washroom! 1972, I was an RN and thought I knew it all but I guess not! Not a Paris memory but my first France experience and memory!

  5. Cathy Moore on January 20, 2021 at 1:54 am

    I’d started to learn French just before my first visit to Paris so thought I’d surely be able to order breakfast ok. So I said to my husband, “watch this”, and I proceeded to order in French.
    “Bonjour Monsieur, nous voudrons le petit dejeuner pour deux avec deux cafes noirs s’il vous plait”
    I’d been rehearsing it all the way to the Cafe, the waiter just looked at me nonplussed and said WHAT coffee are you asking for? Back to the drawing board I thought, but it didnt put me off at all.

    • Diana Bishop on January 20, 2021 at 4:56 pm

      Oh my goodness Cathy, I have so been there! I have prepared in my head exactly what to say and then the waitor or shop person goes into English as well. I speak almost fluent French now and when they do so I insist that I would like to speak French. That usually works! Thanks so much for the comment and for reading my blog. Diana

    • Diana Bishop on January 20, 2021 at 4:59 pm

      Cathy — I have so been there. I speak almost fluent French now and they still do that when they hear my anglophone accent! I actually insist that we speak French and that usually works. Sometimes I reply in French but with a strong Quebecois accent (that’s the French I originally learned) and then they think that they just misunderstood my Quebec French. That works too and is really fun.

    • Ruta Jusys on January 24, 2021 at 4:24 pm

      My first trip to Paris changed my life. The year was 1971, hot pants were in and I was sixteen. Can you believe our parents allowed four teenage girls go to Europe with the promise that we would be met by pre-arranged guides in every city. They didn’t know we would have lots of time to ourselves to explore!
      We pulled into Gare d’Orsay and decided to stay at Hotel Palais d’Orsay since it was the cheapest place in town, very run down and soon to be closed.
      We got the Royal Suite on the mezzanine and it was huge but the ceiling and walls were crumpling. There was a non-functioning fireplace and marble busts with missing ears and noses but the bathtub was huge and the water was warm.
      Petite dejuener was included, a hard bun and thick black coffee but the experience was something I would never forget! As I started down the grand staircase from the mezzanine to the dining room, dressed in hot pants, every waiter serving second rate businessmen turned and stared at me as I descended to the last step. They all wanted to wait on me! Who ever said the French are not friendly???
      It was July the 13th and the eve of Bastille!!! It was just the beginning of an incredible summer!
      The old hotel would close, and I would never again be allowed to touch the frame of the Mona Lisa, but eventually I did return to that room at the Hotel Palais d’Orsay. This time, Klimt was hanging there with some other of my very favourites. They had really cleaned up that suite.
      I had become an art teacher and was lucky enough to return to my beloved city of lights almost every summer until last year. I will be back!!!👍🤞😘

      • Diana Bishop on January 24, 2021 at 7:26 pm

        Ruta…that is one memorable summer and it was time to be young in Paris, wasn’t it? Cheap then and so much that was accessible. We were lucky to done Europe that way! Thanks for the comment, and I hope you will join us for some of the upcoming interviews!
        Stay safe and well, Diana

  6. Bonnie on June 19, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Diana,
    What a story you have! I am late to the party as this blog posting has just been discovered…18 months late. I saw Paris for the first time at Christmas, 1995. A good friend invited me as his guest. I said, yes! As we landed, The Concord on a tarmac could be seen from the air. It was chilly, rainy, and hat and glove weather, but who cares! It was Paris! We stayed in the heart of the 6th, and saw the highlights, as well as wandering. Sensory overload, everywhere! I recall a small Italian restaurant next to one of Victor Hugo’s little apartments, on a side street, just steps from our hotel. It became our regular haunt for a late meal and wine. A treasured time was being at the Eiffel Tower for New Year’s Eve. I have returned 3 extra times, since, and am always planning for my next stay. France is just spectacular. My ancestors are from a very tiny village inland from La Rochelle, L’Hermenault, in the southwestern parts. I would love a chance to see that area someday.

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