Somehow the arrival of April always ushers in the delicious promise of new adventures along with the gentle kiss of spring rain and the season's first batch of lettuce. What can I say? There's something about the heady perfume of lilac blossoms and longer days that lure me from my home in search of...whatever delights life wants to send my way. I can never fully explain this feeling, except to say that it is like a cross between spring fever and the giddy carefree youthfulness that makes you rise before the sun, ready to taste the day.
It also has me dreaming of travel and faraway places, mostly because this is also the time of (the school) year that I am most in need of rest and play time. This fall I wrote about how every November I feel like becoming more introverted in Comfort Me with Books...and Other Simple Pleasures; I find I still turn to books and other simple pleasure in the spring to revive my soul and get myself adventure-ready. The only difference? Fall is for introversion and spring is for...mischief!
Growing up, I always thought of Paris as the place to travel to, mostly because I was reading Henry Miller and Anais Nin, those literary Parisian icons--that is, when I wasn't watching every Audrey Hepburn movie I could get my hands on (many of which happened to take place in or are inspired by this city of lights). My imagination was further inflamed by reading about French culinary delights in the pages of Gourmet magazine. Naturally, I developed quite the fantasy world to escape into when I got tired of homework and the little things that begin to wear on a young woman when spring hits and all she wants to do is kick off her shoes and walk barefoot in the grass.
And when I finally went to Paris two years ago, well, it was lovely. From kir royales and escargot before dinner, to long strolls along the Seine and full days viewing art, there was much to enjoy in this city. But (and I almost hesitate to confess this, because Paris is Paris) part of me knew that what made my visit so absolutely beautiful was the years I'd spent daydreaming about this place and imbuing it with my own rose-colored vision.
...all this by way of saying that spring always makes me feel like that kid again, dreaming of travel and Paris, wanting to be of the world and in the world, as Hepburn's Sabrina would say. So if you, too, are looking to dust off your soul and emerge from hibernation, here's my list of books, movies, and treats to help you feel expansive, delighted, and ready for a trip to Paris--even if it's just from the comfort of your favorite reading nook.
While I haven't read it yet, I can't wait to dive into Laura Florand's Amour et Chocolat Series, starting with The Chocolate Thief. There's chocolate. There's Paris. There's romance...need I say more? I'm totally loving her La Vie en Roses series, starting with Once Upon a Rose, about perfumers in the Provence. So while it's not quite Paris, the fields of roses and heady descriptions of the lush French countryside (not to mention rich internal lives of the main characters) make you want to linger within this book. And wear perfume. And...visit the French countryside (wink wink).
If you're looking for something about the history and daily life of Parisians, not to mention a touch of mystery and a dash of romance, look no further than the Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. She is one of my all-time favorite auto-buy authors and this is the first of many Paris-themed reads from her. Be warned: you will be prone to sipping wine and taking long walks through your own city while under the influence of this book.
And if words on a page are too much for you at the end of the week (I'm talking to you, essay graders!), then consider watching some of the Audrey Hepburn classics like Funny Face (1957) & Sabrina (1954), both of which are about finding yourself in Paris and bringing that magic home with you. If you want to go farther afield, Alfred Hitchcock depicts the French Riveria in all its glamor in his thriller To Catch a Thief (1955), starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in one of the best cat and mouse games you'll ever see. Feeling a little extra saucy? Try Henry & June (1990), a film about Anais Nin and Henry Miller in 1930s Paris...need I say more? For a more contemporary look at Paris, you might want to try another of my favorite odes to this magical city and the Jazz Age, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011). It's about romanticizing history...and learning to find romance in your daily life.
Whatever you decide to dive into--a movie or a book--feast on this literary journey. Make yourself a kir royal, put on that Django Reinhardt record, and spend the day cooking beef bourguignon or coq au vin. Can't quite focus for that long in the kitchen? Forget the more complicated recipes and whip up a simple aioli to dip garden-fresh crudites or let yourself get swept up in M. F. K. Fisher's culinary recollections of her time in France and make whatever inspires you.
However you choose to spend your proverbial April in Paris, enjoy the ability to travel from the comfort of your own home.
Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is the everyday, subscribe here.