france-landmark-lights-night-largeI started taking French lessons in 6th grade, as part of a rotational elective. And I was immediately hooked. My fascination for the capital city, Paris, grew and grew over the years, and I continued studying French for 10 years (I minored at The University of Texas).

My very first encounter with Paris was a layover in Charles De Gaulle Airport on our way to South Africa. I was like a kid in a candy shop, walking around reading signs, absorbing the dialogue going on around me. I loved it. Growing up in Texas meant everyone studied Spanish, so to be in a city where everyone was speaking my language was like a dream come true. I even ordered a drink on our Air France flight in French and smiled for hours after doing so.

A year later, I was looking for ways to spend an entire summer in Paris, but knew that I didn’t want to do a study abroad program and be tied to classwork and living with a family or in a dormitory. I reached out to a contact I had made at a prior internship, as her husband was French and had connections with businessmen in Paris. Through Meg, I found a part time summer internship with a company now named PetroWire. Luckily for me, my boss rented out a part of their gorgeous, large Parisian home, so my accommodation was taken care of as well.

As the spring semester (2009) began, I saw signs in the Career Services Center at The University of Texas at Austin advertising a Cannes Film Festival program, and I leapt at the opportunity to spend two weeks prior to Paris in the south of France. I interviewed and accepted a PR position with The American Pavilion. In May, I took all of my finals weeks early (highly stressful), and then packed my bags and flew to Nice. The film festival was a dream come true. As a celebrity lover, I couldn’t have asked for more excitement. I helped organize photographers’ shoots to make sure they got good shots of Brad and Angelina, I had a lengthy discussions with Dileep Rao and Justin Long, and I was in the same tiny room as Martin Scorcese, Eli Roth and Roger Ebert. I got paid to tweet (seriously). I made long-lasting friendships, one friend who was in my House Party at my wedding.enhance (3)enhance (4) I flew north after the festival ended to begin my job in Paris. I was fortunate enough to have one of my closest friends, Andrew, there that summer as well. He was doing medical research as part of a grant from Harvard (smarty pants), so his work load was heavier than mine (I finished every day at noon). We spent the entire summer gallivanting around, roaming down new streets, trying new restaurants, drinking wine on the banks of the Seine. It was amazing. I blogged about it every single day (read here). I think I only had three readers, but I’m so glad I documented every activity that took place, as I likely would have forgotten most by now.

versaillesIn front of Versailles

I returned to Paris in 2010 with my family, as part of my graduation trip. We stayed for a week and tried restaurants that my previous budget did not allow. It was so nice playing tour guide. I got to do it again two years later in 2012, when Sasha and I had a one-day layover in Paris on Christmas Eve (see post here).dsc_0005I am so anxious to get there (and praying for Isla’s jetlag!), and to roam around. Our agenda is fully packed. We’re only in France for four days – one of which is occupied by the French Open, so it’s go-go-go. I’m looking forward to seeing our friends, Tim and Libby, who moved there late last year.

Have you been to Paris? If so, what were your thoughts? If not, is it on your bucket list?


Featured image via Pexels

5 Comments

  1. What a really interesting story, Ailee! You, guys, enjoy your first family trip to France! 🙂 I will be living vicariously through your recap posts!

  2. Paris t-minus 7 hours! I hope Isla sleeps the entire first leg…fingers crossed!

  3. Oh my gosh Ailee I had no idea about all this! I too have a fascination with France. I’ve never really talked about it because it always seems so cliché, but I’m obsessed. I started learning French on my own with Duolingo and have hopes of returning soon. On a trip to London I was able to sneak in a day in Paris and meet up with some friends from training out of the Paris office. It was the best day ever! Can’t wait to read about your adventures!!

  4. Lucky you to have lived and worked in Paris. I’ve never been, but we were thinking of going for our 10 year wedding anniversary this September. We just didn’t know if we should bring the kids or not, so i look forward to hearing about your trip. Kristine xo

  5. Kathryn York Reply

    I love this! Paris holds a special place in my heart too since I interned for Air Liquide there the summer before my Senior year at UT. Have so much fun!! I can’t wait to read about your trip!

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