Cultivating Joie de Vivre in Paris

Before my eyes even flutter open, the thought (and smell) of coffee and croissants stroll through my consciousness. Living in France sure has changed the way I greet my day. What’s more, being in Paris means being able to cultivate joie de vivre (joy of life) with access to the country’s best, most mouth-watering treats at any moment.

Living in France, I’ve managed to erase that sense of guilt around such indulgence, and instead start just appreciating each moment as I experience it.

That morning sensory pick-me-up is more than just sweets and pleasure, of course—it’s also my fuel for another day in Paris, and truthfully, those days merit an energy-packed breakfast. Most days I’ll cycle or walk in to work, which serves both to get me there and to wake up my senses with the endless stretch of sights and sounds and stories happening all around.

I recently moved close to one of Paris’ majestic train stations, and often I’ll opt to venture through its bustling atmosphere on my way to the bikeshare station. It feels like walking in and out of the pages of a novel, people embracing their loved ones as trains arrive and set off to other parts of France and beyond. Truly, living close to the gare (station) is like living right next door to all of the big cities in France and much of Europe too.

One of the many views that greet Jacquelyn as she travels through early morning Paris.

Even outside of those longer journeys, everyday living in Paris is an adventure. Among the locals going through their daily routines, and the tourists discovering new culture and marvels, and the transplants, like me, who come from other corners of the world and weave themselves into the fabric of the city, there’s an endless world of possibilities to wake up to each day.

One day I’ll practice my French at a language exchange event, or volunteer to deliver meals to people in need, and the next day I’ll let myself be carried away by the live tunes drifting around a local bar. Sometimes I’ll enjoy a Friday-morning lecture and breakfast series with other creatives, and at any moment I can head to a 24-hour workspace to get in some solitary productivity. After a short train ride I can stroll through forest trails in nearby Fontainebleau, or I can stay in the city for a yoga class in the park. Even on the days of just lounging around the house or laying low in a café somewhere, that joie de vivre permeates life here.

The city is rich with diversity and energy, and each day it brings along with it new lessons and growth. Living in Paris continues to be one of the most valuable experiences I could have imagined. It has opened up my world and my understanding of the world, and that shift is something worth appreciating every day.

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