Au Revoir Byron Bay ... Bonjour Paris!
What on earth would make a Byron Bay girl suddenly decide to pack up her entire life in the space of three months, and move to Paris?
Especially after having visited the city of love and light only once, and only for five days? Who the hell do I think I am - a 20 year old, carefree student or something?!
Well, close. I’m not 20 years old, but I am carefree (my only child having grown up and recently flown the coop) and I will be a student, once I'm in Paris. A French language student, to be exact. For an entire year. Oui mes amis, I am moving to Paris to improve my French, immerse myself in the delights of Paris but more thrillingly, to be Parisian - as far possible as it may be for a born and bred Australian woman.
Before leaving for my petite vacance in Paris just two months ago, my sister gave me sage advice: “Say YES to everything!” Having been a highly responsible, disciplined, over-achiever all my life, the concept was hugely exciting and I took it literally : “Yes please, I’ll have that huge croissant almandine for breakfast”, “Yes I’ll have vin blanc et frîtes for dinner instead of vegetables”, “Yes I’ll go to that Fashion Week show in my stilettos then walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower across cobblestones in them”, or even more daring “Yes I'll go out for wine with a French man who I’ve never met before and see what happens …”
I’m so glad I said oui to everything, because I had a kind of awakening. I fell in love with Paris but also with life - my life. Call me une hédoniste, but I realised that all that really matters to me for now is adventure, fun, freedom and connections with people. Not stuff, not things, not possessions ... just flowing and creating and being.
Within two months of returning to Byron Bay (and after weeks of frantic gathering of documents and a nerve wracking interview at the consulate in Sydney) I was granted the holy grail of French visas – visa du long sejour - permitting me to live the life of my dreams for a whole year in the city that makes my heart burst with joy. All my worldly possessions are now sold and the last few pieces of clothing I own are packed (very tightly) into a 30kg suitcase. I'm pretty sure my Byron Bay wardrobe will need serious supplementing to cope with the 6 degree Parisian conditions awaiting me, but it all just feels hugely liberating, empowering and surprisingly abundant. There’s a delicious delight to be found in freeing oneself of ‘things’ and trusting in God, Buddha, the universe ... or simply your own wits and instincts.
In fact, I kind of feel just like a carefree 20 year old again!