the last drag

I’m in my last weeks of living in Paris.  I am trying to take it all in.

I use a cigarette analogy to title this post, appropriate for Paris, but fortunately I remain a non-smoker.  Smoke-free environments are one of the things I will look forward to in my return to Philadelphia.  Nonetheless, I am scampering around the city trying to breathe in every last bit of art, culture, food, scenery etc.

I’m not in panic mode yet, but I have moments of thinking, “is this my last…?”  Insert: walk in the Tuileries, view of Notre Dame, café crème, Louvre visit, shopping excursion, etc.  What a treat it has been to live in this beautiful city for year.

Over these final weeks I have been stocking up on exhibits around the city.  Egon Schiele, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alfonse Mucha are artists I barely knew (if at all) prior to my exhibit visit.  I am always surprised the way art helps me discover new ways of thinking.  There is so much perspective to be gained through art if one can open themselves to the artist’s experience and expression.  I have more on my running list of museums and current exhibits to visit, but time is dwindling.

Jean-Michel Basquais, Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump. 1982.

Stock piling is also the correct expression to use as I shop my way through the city.  Am I thinking I will not return?  I only have so many bags and places to tuck my goodies for my voyage home.  I am not sure how my will ‘to capture Paris’ is overpowering the practical side of my ability to haul all of this home.  In any case, I have bought eyeglasses, shoes, artwork, a hardcopy(?) 2019 day planner, art books, more shoes, Christmas gifts and I am sure the list will grow.  Keep in mind, this is all in my last few weeks – again, what am I thinking?

I would really like to make one last trip to Saint Ouen – the antique markets.  I am too scared of what I would find, purchase and need to ship home.  I have declared these markets off limits for the remainder of the year.

I have managed to distract myself with walks through the city, capturing photos of Paris in the fall and holiday staging period.  Last week, I joined the American Women’s Group on a tour of the catacombs.  I also enjoyed a few days of theater and art in London.  It’s such an easy trip (and a novelty) to travel to London.  I can’t imagine having this type of accessibility again.

Luxembourg Gardens






The Catacombs





Walking in London

The truth is, the way I am coming to grips with leaving Paris is knowing that I will be back in the future.  My future experiences may not be in sabbatical form, but certainly time in this city breathes life into me.

Next week will be my final blog post for the Paris Pen – a reflection on the totality of this year…please join me then.




2018-11-04T08:50:33+00:00November 4th, 2018|Categories: Featured, La Ville, Mon Quartier, Uncategorized|14 Comments


  1. Paula Lievense November 4, 2018 at 9:39 am - Reply

    You will always carry Paris in your heart Gretchen…… and you will return … again …. and again …. Paris is just a part of you now! ….. and she waits! xx Paula

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

      Thank you, Paula. I hope so!

  2. Aimee November 4, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

    I can’t believe it’s coming to a close. I feel like it was just yesterday that you were in DC meeting with the Embassy and afraid they wouldn’t approve your visa!

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      I know! How time flies and I remember that whirlwind trip! Think about how much difference a year can make…can’t wait to see sweet little Huckleberry again :). xoxo,G

  3. Catherine OMalley November 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    How delightful it’s been to follow vicariously along with you this past year, G! Thank you for sharing your Parisian (and beyond) adventures. What an incredible experience that you’ll always treasure. Can’t wait to see you soon xoxo

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Cath. Your support has meant the world. Can’t wait to see you! xoxo, G

  4. Alyce Cerniglia November 4, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    When you come home I would love to get together. There are some French bakeries in my area: Le Petite Mitron in narberth or the new Delice et chocolat in Ardmore. I cannot wait to hear about your adventure in person and see more fabulous pictures.

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      Alyce, I would love to! xoxo, Gretchen

  5. Elaine Prutzman November 4, 2018 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Gretchen- I’ve enjoyed reading the Paris Pen as it has extended my recent trip in the spring! I regret that we didn’t connect. But the blog has taken me to places that weren’t on my itinerary—places that I’d like to return to explore myself on my next trip to France. 👩‍🎨. You’ve had a wonderful year and appreciate you sharing the experience! What a great way to document your travels— I admire your sense of adventure! Safe travels home! Elaine

    • Gretchen November 4, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Elaine!

  6. Dad November 5, 2018 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Gretchen, this not your last Paris rodeo. As Aurdrey Herpurn said in Sabrina “Paris is always a good idea”😘

    • Gretchen November 5, 2018 at 8:14 am - Reply

      It’s true, thanks for the reminder! xoxo.

  7. Julie Cohen November 5, 2018 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Enjoy every last second of this wonderful year! Looking forward to seeing you when you return. 🙂

    • Gretchen November 5, 2018 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      Yes! I will…see you soon! xoxo, G

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