It’s because you’re going to the city of love.
Known for romantic strolls along the Seine, the glittering Eiffel Tower after nightfall and the fashionable inhabitants. The city that has beautiful neighbourhoods including Montmarte and grand avenues such as the stylishly gorgeous Champs-Élysées, where beautiful locals and hordes of tourists sip lattés and shop in the sun, reflections glinting off the grand windows of Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss. The city that has striking architecture and good wine, even though you don’t drink.
The last time I went to Paris, in the summer of 2017, I chain-smoked whilst crying on the phone to my best friend. It was midnight and I was huddled up in a shop doorway bemoaning about how ‘lonely’ I was, how I lacked any sort of skills, how my life had been on hold for the past few years through no fault but my own. I was mildly drunk, having had a few white wines earlier with a girl I had met in India, and I fell to pieces as I realised that I was in the city of love and romance, a city I was supposed to be in with my ex for however long, alone and single.
Because even though I absolutely adore (and prefer) solo travel, it bitch-slapped me hard that night that sometimes, it might be quite nice to travel with someone you love too. I’ve had amazing experiences on my own and with other travellers abroad (including seeing drag shows, being scratched by monkeys and having the worst experiences involving space cake), and although I would never change any of that and what I could experience further just so I could travel with someone, I still desire that close contact sometimes. It comes from something as simple as when I see couples resting their heads on each other during long bus journeys across countries, or knowing that they’re going to the city of love to share macarons and place ‘together forever’ padlocks on bridges.
This is what my friend will do this weekend with his sweetheart. They will walk hand-in-hand and watch street performers, go to shows and visit the Louvre, stay in a gorgeous, tiny Parisian hotel room, and have croissants and coffee in the morning and sightsee during the day. I don’t even particularly like Paris (or France in general), but their weekend will be very different to the one I experienced last year, and I’m happy for them.
Solo travel was and is life-changing – it has defined me and made me better in ways I didn’t think possible. It has given me confidence and opened my mind and allowed me to meet the best of people. But sometimes, maybe just a few times, I would like to share that experience with a love too.
…although not so often, I do extol and enjoy solo travel too much!