It might sound weird to combine the phrases slow travel and exploring with intention, but hear me out. When we went on our action-packed trip to Paris we planned to do all the things. All. The. Things. The first four days were non-stop, filled with touristy things and putting more miles on my walking shoes than I have in the last couple of years. It was extremely exciting, but it was also extremely exhausting. Today I’m sharing with you a little lesson that I had to remind myself of on this trip, enjoy slow travel.
While Steve had been to Paris before, it was my first trip and I felt this immense pressure to see and do all the things. I needed to check those must-see and must-do items off my bucket list, and oh man, did we try. By day 3 I was a walking zombie. I don’t even think I was fully soaking up the wonder of Paris. Between jet lag and attempting to do all the things I would crash out early only to wake up with 1AM jet lag again. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t the kind of trip I wanted. On day 4 we slowed down, and by day 5 I put my foot down.
We had big plans to visit the Palace of Versailles on our last full day in Paris, day 5, but I couldn’t do it. I started feeling anxious the night before at the thought of being surrounded by a ton of tourists again, waiting in long lines, and being stuffed into an area like a sardine just to check a little box off on my list. So, we didn’t do it. It felt nice to say no, and to go against what everyone else thinks you should or shouldn’t do on a trip.
We slept in. We grabbed breakfast at a spot we’d eaten at twice before, then I took a stroll around the neighborhood with the objective to visit a store I had only ever been in before during our trip to Copenhagen. I booked tickets for the Espace Dalí museum. We took a long and winding car ride to get there, and afterward meandered around Sacre Coeur and Montmartre before heading to a small coffee shop that had vegan croissants. Then we wandered around some shops in the neighborhood before heading to quickly check out Notre Dame and watch the sunset over the Seine. The day sounds packed, but it was slow with moments of peace and delight in just the right spots. We finished it up with dinner near our hotel before heading to bed early after my perfect kind of day in Paris.
Lesson learned. Despite having a million suggestions that I am eternally grateful for, the immense pressure to do all of the big must-do’s in the city came really close to ruining my first trip to Paris. I am 100% sure that if I visit Paris again, I’ll do more of the little stuff and less of the big stuff. While I can appreciate the history and the ambiance of the more popular attractions, I think there is a lot to be said for the smaller intimate interactions of any kind of trip.
Do you ever consider slow travel?