“We’ll always have Paris,” Rick (Humphrey Bogart) tells a distraught Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) near the end of Casablanca (1942).
Ah, Paris. You’re in my heart with so many memories of the city and country now rattled by terrorist attacks.
We lived in London between 1982-87, and made our first trip to Paris one Christmas. We stayed in the apartment of my husband’s colleague. Armed with the Plan de Paris—the street by street guide, complete with maps, we walked everywhere, loving the city’s beauty- its bridges, churches, art, and food. Give me a mocha éclair and I’m happy.
We returned again the next year, this time staying at a centrally located one-star hotel recommended by a friend. One star lived up to its name—cockroaches greeted us in the sink, and the mattress sunk to the floor. But we were young, and the city beckoned.
When pregnant with my first child, we took the hydrofoil from Dover to Calais, and drove to Rouen, the medieval city where Joan of Arc was tried for heresy. Though my London-based obstetrician cleared me to travel, the French didn’t agree I should be on the boat for the return trip. We convinced them after much discussion and I made it safely back to the UK.
Another trip, we toured the battlefields of Normandy, this time along with our 6-month -old son. The French love babies; we were welcomed everywhere.
Years later, we brought the three children to the Loire Valley, where we visited castle after castle.
We celebrated our 30th anniversary in the Dordogne, on our bicycles in 2012. W’ve been talking about a return trip for our 35th, and hope to explore a different part of this gorgeous, bike-friendly, nation.
There aren’t enough words to address the terrorist situation. We’ve grown complacent, 14 years after 9/11, grumbling about taking off our shoes at the airport. I remember that day crystal clear. I lost a wonderful neighbor, who left behind a wife and three children under 8. I was teaching at the local middle school then and I cried during homeroom. Students were asking me questions. I didn’t have answers. I told them to be the best they can be to make the world a better place.
I’m not sure that’s enough. If the world’s cities and cultures are to be preserved from madness, action must be taken.