I had many, many plans for the summer of 2020, but the one I was most excited for was a long weekend in Paris.
I had picked out a gorgeous Airbnb in Le Marais, full of classic Parisian features like high ceilings, white panelling and one of those dinky little balconies with a spectacular view. It was going to be a DREAM on Instagram, and I was looking forward to pretending to be a fancy French lady for a weekend. My plans involved exploring the many museums and galleries, venturing up the Sacre Coeur at dawn and a lot of vintage shopping. I love travelling alone, and Paris is a city that I never tire of.
Unfortunately, we all know what happened next. Now my long weekend was being spent at home, in a house that is halfway through being renovated. However, I was determined to still take a little holiday for myself, and I was going to make it as Parisian as possible.
Start at home
First things first, I wanted to make my home feel as much like a bougie French apartment as possible. No matter that it was actually a terraced house in a small Northern town, I was going to do it. I already had a fair amount of plants, but since I’d been hankering for more plant babies anyway, I stocked up. All the fantastic French women with stunning Parisian apartments have seemingly hundreds of plants, so they were definitely an essential purchase.
I popped some gloriously chic bedding on my bed before I went on “holiday”, and stocked up on some French-inspired homeware to make my home feel like the Airbnb of my dreams.
Dress the part
The stereotypical French woman, swanning around Paris looking effortlessly put together and unattainably beautiful may be a figment of our outside mindset, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a clear “French-girl” aesthetic which I am very much into. The easiest way to achieve it is by buying from French brands, so as much I was looking forward to exploring Paris’ vintage shops and hopefully hunting down some vintage Chanel (a girl can dream), I’ve had to settle for exhausting my credit card online instead.
The key pieces for that Parisian vibe are floral dresses, straight leg jeans and romantic blouses. Just add a basket bag and a ballet pump and you’re Jane Birkin.
Don’t forget the food
I firmly believe that no one should have to cook while on holiday unless of course you actually enjoy it.
If you have a French restaurant nearby I highly recommend visiting at least once a day for your at-home Paris experience, or you can do what I did and convince your partner to cook your favourite French meals. Be nice though, and at least order some pastries from somewhere on Deliveroo – I once attempted to make croissants from scratch and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.
Some easy French dishes to try out would be Crêpes Suzette for breakfast, Steak with Pommes Frites and Béarnaise sauce for dinner and, of course, Tarte Tatin for dessert. For lunch, I highly recommend what I did when I was last in Paris and packing a basket with a baguette, at least two cheeses, some cured meats, fruit and a bottle of wine and proceeding to gorge on it in a park while attempting to look like you’re not eating three people’s worth of food alone.
Explore my hometown
The real key though is getting out of the house if you’re able. Visiting any city is about more than just where you’re staying, especially in Paris. While I may not be able to visit the Louvre or my personal favourite, Musée Rodin, I’m guilty of not exploring what’s on my doorstep.
In lieu of Parisian wanders, I took myself on a day out to explore the best of what Manchester has to offer. Not all of the museums and galleries are open yet, but what I did get to see surprised me. We so often forget to look up in our hometowns, and the architecture of my home city was more beautiful than I had realised. Naturally, I also visited a florist and bought myself a large bouquet.
I may not have made it to France this year, and I don’t know when I’ll next be able to escape the UK. However, my little Parisian staycation had the desired effect: I relaxed. I wandered a city and explored the backstreets, I ate great food and got to pretend to be a chicer, more put-together version of myself for a few days. For me, holidays are both escapism from normal daily life and escapism from my normal self. I can be a little different on holiday, try out something new and see if it sticks when I get back.
Paris is a city of romance, whimsy and free spirits, and mine were lifted even just pretending I was there.