My first trip to Paris 25



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I was 14, thought I was very grown up, had my first elegant dress and had packed my case many times. The trip to Paris was a school trip, two weeks in Paris for 25 pounds. I drank the whole experience in, I fell hook line and sinker, and wandered round in a young girl’s dream – the left Bank, the gardens, the art, the smell of the fresh bread, and the fashions. I ate everything they gave me, even enjoyed the hot stuffy little room we had in a ‘pension.’ Some girls complained about the food, the heat, everything. But I just wanted to stay. Sun fell on me, breakfast was real coffee, and apricot conserve on crispy bread, I was in heaven. It was April 1954.

For me this was perfect, I had found the new world and I wanted to grab it. When I got back I gushed, telling anyone who would listen, using all my purple prose in an article; and had my first ‘public’ writing exposed. It was in a teacher’s magazine. My mother kept it, so I have it now. My first published work.

It was many years later when I had been married for 25 years that I returned and enjoyed it all over again with my husband. Still the love affair was alive, we wandered and viewed and ate and drank. It was expensive; and sometimes frustrating communication, but yes I still loved Paris.

So to hear and see the carnage spread over every newspaper, every TV news program, is sickening, it strikes at the heart. France had done nothing to deserve this, and it was not done in the name of religion whatever they say. It was done because they are schooled in violence and murder, encouraged to hate and maim. There have always been wars like this, they did it to claim land, to quell another tribe, to gain power over any religion and church they did not want. In the middle ages it was always so. My strongest feelings are the hatred of this outlook. Why have we not moved on? Why do they still ignore progress? Progress for women, progress in thinking, progress to stop this senseless killing. When they leave the dark and violent past they will have a country and people they can be proud of, with a river of blood flowing as it is now, this will never ever happen. Pray for France, pray for the world.

Tell us, what are your happy thoughts and memories of Paris?

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. I am not sure I would say France has done nothing to deserve the bombing. Certainly the vast majority of its people had done nothing, but the country itself isn’t squeaky clean. I can’t remember all the details but I do know that when most other countries in the world put an arms embargo on one regime France didn’t continuing to supply weapons to that regime. From ISIS point of view France was among those nations bombing it. No the people of France didn’t deserve that, but how do you separate a country’s policies from its people if you want to attack those policies, the people voted for the policy makers.

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    • I am very sure that I can say none of those who died in the terrorist attacks, apart from the terrorists, deserved to be bombed or shot. Nor do I accept that ISIS/Daesh has a point of view or is even entitled to one.

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      • Thank you, and to my other reply, no it isn’t fair, and as I have now attained 76 years it becomes more and more obvious life is not fair. But its still the best we will get, so we live it.

  2. My first visit was in 2003 after spending time wandering other parts of France by car. I loved the city but had developed a sour dislike of quite rude French people after earlier encounters. That changed when we were sitting in a crowded cafe at a tiny table for lunch in Boulevard St Germain and I acccidentally knocked my beer off the table. The glass shattered; glass and beer went in all directions over shoes and trouser legs. All sound ceased; from a raucous bar to dead quiet instantly. The owner and his wife rushed out from behind the bar with mop, bucket and brushes. I expected to be abused. Instead they cleaned up the mess swiftly and cheerfully, apologised to me for the size of the table, and gave me a free replacement beer. All of the customers laughed it off, despite sodden trousers. Suddenly I didn’t dislike the French any more 🙂 I’ve been back several times since and will continue to return despite the terrorists.

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    • Thanks Leone. It is one of my favourite cities. I’ve only been four times, usually only fleetingly in transit to other places, but usually stay at least a night or two rather than just change planes. So much history and so many different places to see.

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      • I am with you there, and would still go back, (might leave it a month or two though) and yes the French appear rude sometimes, but can be charmed if you try. Have wonderful memories of our visits.

    • Well, you’ve sold me Alan. I have been schooled on how rude the French are,and have not yet been to France. It’s an experience I’ll try now after reading both Jacqui’s and your enthusiastic responses.

  3. I went to Paris with my daughter , just the two of us, it was her 21st birthday . It was 3days of of happiness and wonder . What a besutifull city !!

  4. Our school trip was to Parliament house in Canberra – I would have preferred Paris.

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    • Meg Solomon You didn’t miss much Meg – Canberra in the 60s was pretty dull. I did enjoy going on my first ever plane journey though – that is about as much as I can remember about it 🙂

    • Lol my first trip to Canberra wss 1972 itcwas pretty dull! Best school excursion was a bus trip to Port Kembla Steelworks! In 4th class and again in 4th form (year 10) little did I know years later I’d marry someone who worked there!

  5. Husband and I were back in England for a few years with his job. 6 close family and friends plus my faithful old blue Heeler died in a short time, culminating in my 32 yr old niece being found at the bottom of her stairs dead. I felt like my whole world was playing 10 Green Bottles and there were more loved ones dead than alive. Also, my galloping arthritis was taking hold and I was realising how bad it really was. Husband handed me a packed bag and told me his brother was picking us up and taking us to a London train station very early. It was a wonderful train trip to Paris. Will never forget it and always cherish it. It was sad that I couldn’t walk more, but a hop on hop off bus made things easier and we saw so much that weekend. Standing in front of Madonna I was in awe.

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    • Linda that year sounds horrendous,but for that little weekend escape. May I be bold and ask which Madonna?

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      • For Linda,—– I can identify with a horrible year we had one when I had the third child, everything went wrong that could go wrong, death of a family member, bankruptcy, no home for us, etc, etc, the year was so bad. It was a good few years before I got to France and to Paris, but the memories of that can obliterate a lot! We need those high points and find a way of holding them in our memory as an antidote for the bad days.

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