How to Fall in Love in 12 Hours


When you’re stuck in Paris for 12 hours, the tragedy is not that you’re stuck in Paris, but that you’re only “stuck” there for 12 measly hours.

What is it John Lennon said – “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans?”  On our way to Copenhagen for the fall semester, a friend and I were stranded in Paris for 12 hours between trains (thank you, Eurail, for never being accurate), so what to do?

After consulting our watches and agreeing that there just wasn’t enough time to meet 2 French boys and fall madly, deeply in French love (le sigh), we decided to walk.

We ducked into the first café we found for some jus d’orange et deux croissants (and after just two nouns, I had reached the limit of my high school French). Studying the map we traced our fingers through croissant flakes along the Seine. “We can walk up to Notre Dame, go up along the north side of the Seine and see the pyramid at the Louvre, through the Jardin des Tuileries and along the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, then down this street to the Eiffel Tower, and then depending on what time it is, we either walk back on the south side of the Seine or catch the metro back to the station.” I had spent a week in Paris with a school group when I was 14, which obviously made me an expert.

So we walked. We took thousands of pictures, ate crêpes and more croissants and baguettes avec jambon et fromage and these delightful berry tarts near the Eiffel Tower. We lounged on the grass with those berry tarts and idly wondered if we’d make it back to Copenhagen by the next night like we were supposed to. It was hard to care either way.

So what should you do when you’re stranded in Paris for 12 hours? Sit at a sidewalk café with a latte (or a bottle of wine) and listen to the gorgeous puckered lips speaking incomprehensible French all around you. Stroll through a farmer’s market, if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon one – you’ve never seen strawberries so red. Watch the artists in the Place du Tertre painting portraits (bring an oxygen tank if you want to walk the hills of Montmartre). Get lost in the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay. Explore every nook and cranny of Notre Dame. Find a park bench anywhere and watch the French ladies with their little lap dogs. Or just…walk.

12 hours will never be enough time in a city like Paris. 12 years probably isn’t enough.  But falling in love with Paris? That only takes 12 minutes. Spend the next 11 hours and 48 minutes just soaking it up.

Allison once thought she’d be an astronaut, until she realized she’d rather make up stories than solve physics problems. She’s on a mission to prove that margaritas are healthy.  You can follow her on twitter at @itsallisonk!


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